US President Donald Trump on Tuesday pardoned two imprisoned OR ranchers whose sentencing on arson convictions sparked the 2016 occupation of a wildlife refuge, part of a long-simmering dispute over federal land policies in the US West. On Tuesday, President Donald Trump granted clemency to Dwight Lincoln Hammond Jr. and his son, Steven Hammond, two OR ranchers convicted of arson. The White House said the men were imprisoned for "a fire that leaked onto a small portion of neighboring public grazing land".
The crime carried a five-year minimum prison sentence, but a sympathetic federal judge, on his last day before retirement, decided the penalty was too harsh andgave the father and son a much lighter prison sentence.
"The [Obama] administration, however, filed an overzealous appeal that resulted in the Hammonds being sentenced to five years in prison".
The White House in a statement on Tuesday called the order to return the two to prison "unjust".
President Donald Trump signed full pardons (executive grants of clemency) for Dwight and Steven Hammond on July 10.
Dwight Hammond, now 76, has served three years in prison, and his son Steven, 49, has served four years.
"Whatever prompted President Trump to pardon them, we hope that it is not seen as an encouragement to those who might use violence to seize federal property and threaten federal employees in the West", Clark said.
The Hammonds were convicted in 2012.
A still from the January 2016 protest march against the Hammonds' re-imprisonment led by Ammon Bundy.
Bundy and his sons Ammon and Ryan faced trial themselves after an armed standoff at their Nevada ranch in 2014 that was sparked by land-grazing fees.
Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., said, "I applaud President Trump for thoroughly reviewing the facts of this case, rightly determining the Hammonds were treated unfairly, and taking action to correct this injustice".
The ranchers, Dwight and Steven Hammond, made the trip on Wednesday with Lucas Oil founder Forrest Lucas, according to a post on Protect the Harvest's Facebook page, a nonprofit founded by Lucas. But the Obama administration demanded they go back into court "where they were sentenced to further time in prison under an anti-terrorism law, even though there was no evidence presented that the ranchers had planned or engaged in terrorism in any way".
"We're going to do a lot of decompressing and get back to our families", Steven Hammond said.
"Obviously, when we get some good news like the pardoning of the Hammonds to start our day it makes everything just a little bit better around here after a couple of year of working on this tough issue", said Ethan Lane, Executive Director of the Public Lands Council and NCBA Federal Lands.
In its second challenge against the family, BLM succeeded in not only obtaining a conviction against Dwight and Steven Hammond but also in overturning the sentencing ruling by the first judge and the levy of significantly more punitive sentences under a second judge.
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"We hear about the Hammonds".
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