Dwight and Steven Hammond Pardoned by President Trump
by Shari Dovale
On Tuesday, July 10, 2018, President Donald Trump granted a Full Pardon to Dwight and Steven Hammond.
The Hammonds were convicted on June 22, 2012, of starting two small fires under the 1996 Antiterrorism Act, which carried a 5 year minimum sentence. The presiding judge, Michael Hogan, overruled the minimum terrorist sentence, commenting that if the full five years were required it would be a violation of the 8th amendment (cruel and unusual punishment).
Dwight was sentenced to 3 months and Steven was given 12 months. They fulfilled these sentences. Dwight was released in March 2013 and Steven, January 2014.
The government appealed this ruling and in October 2015, the 9th District Court “re-sentenced” Dwight and Steven, requiring them to return to prison for several more years.
The “re-sentencing” of the ranchers from Harney County sparked a protest that led to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge Protest which lasted 41 days beginning in January 2016.
The protest, led by Ammon Bundy, ended after the shooting of LaVoy Finicum by law enforcement, during what they have called a “traffic stop”.
The traffic stop was set up in advance on a remote highway in Rural Oregon while the protesters were traveling to the city of John Day to participate in a public meeting. The set up was known as a “Deadman’s Roadblock”.
FBI Supervisory Special Agent W. Joseph Astarita is said to have fired his weapon at Finicum during that stop. He has not been charged with that crime, however, he is facing 5 charges for his actions during the incident, including obstruction of justice and giving false statements to investigators. His trial is scheduled to begin in Portland later this month.
Though President Trump has not weighed in on the after-effects of the Hammond’s imprisonment, the White House issued a statement which included:
At the Hammonds’ original sentencing, the judge noted that they are respected in the community and that imposing the mandatory minimum, 5-year prison sentence would “shock the conscience” and be “grossly disproportionate to the severity” of their conduct. As a result, the judge imposed significantly lesser sentences. The previous administration, however, filed an overzealous appeal that resulted in the Hammonds being sentenced to five years in prison. This was unjust.
We thank President Donald Trump for recognizing the unjust imprisonment of these fine men, and for his sending them home.
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