President Donald Trump granted executive clemency on Tuesday to multi-generation cattle ranchers Dwight Lincoln Hammond Jr. and son, Steven Hammond.
“The Hammonds are multi-generation cattle ranchers in Oregon imprisoned in connection with a fire that leaked onto a small portion of neighboring public grazing land,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement issued Tuesday on the full pardon of the Hammonds. “The evidence at trial regarding the Hammonds’ responsibility for the fire was conflicting, and the jury acquitted them on most of the charges.”
Sanders recounted the series of events that left the 76-year-old and 46-year-old Hammond father and son sentenced to five years each in prison after an “overzealous appeal” under the Obama administration.
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.
Dwight Hammond is now 76 years old and has served approximately three years in prison. Steven Hammond is 49 and has served approximately four years in prison. They have also paid $400,000 to the United States to settle a related civil suit. 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. Justice is overdue for Dwight and Steven Hammond, both of whom are entirely deserving of these Grants of Executive Clemency.
The announcement came as President Trump set out for NATO meetings in Brussels, Belgium.
Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana.