President Trump Pardons Cattle Ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond

Donald Trump

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump granted clemency to Dwight Lincoln Hammond Jr., 76, and his son, Steven Hammond, 49, two OR ranchers convicted of arson for the 2001 Hardie-Hammond Fire.

"The federal judge who heard the Hammonds" case, Michael Hogan, said in his ruling that a five-year prison sentence is "grossly disproportionate to the severity of (petitioners") offenses.' He added that it does "not meet any idea I have of justice, proportionately" and "would shock the conscious to me.' Hogan also noted that the 1996 Anti-Terrorism & Effective Death Penalty Act was never meant to apply to ranchers simply trying to protect their land".

Two imprisoned ranchers who were convicted of intentionally setting fires in 2012 on public land in OR will be freed after President Donald Trump pardoned them on Tuesday.

In a statement, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said an "overzealous appeal" of the Hammonds's original sentences during the Obama administration, which sent them back to prison, was "unjust".

"They now think they have a friend in the White House who does not value public lands", said Aaron Weiss, media director for the Center for Western Priorities, a nonprofit that advocates protecting public land.

The second imprisonment caused a local backlash. They engaged in an armed standoff with federal authorities, although the Hammonds turned themselves over to authorities to serve the additional time and did not heed the Bundys' call to resist.

The pardons don't carry huge practical import; the Hammonds had already served most of their sentences.

The federal government's approach to the Hammonds reflects "prosecutorial misconduct" that's evident in other cases, said Ramona Morrison, daughter of deceased Nevada rancher and "Sagebrush Rebellion" icon Wayne Hage.

This is a very distinct and selective version of the "law and order" he campaigned on, but one that holds enormous appeal to the only people President Trump really cares about: his base.

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"The Hammonds are devoted family men, respected contributors to their local community, and have widespread support from their neighbors, local law enforcement, and farmers and ranchers across the West", Trump continued.

The United States government alleged that the father-son duo set the fire in 2001 to reduce the growth of juniper trees and sagebrush, thereby accelerating rangeland grasses for cattle feed, according to The Oregonian.

The elder Hammond has served nearly three years of his sentence, while his son has been incarcerated for four years.

Following their re-sentencing, their supporters began an armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Oregon.

While numerous Hammonds' supporters didn't approve of the takeover, they saw the Obama administration's pursuit of longer prison sentences as vindictive.

"Pardoning the Hammonds sends a unsafe message to America's park rangers, wildland firefighters, law enforcement officers, and public lands managers", Rokala said in a statement.

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