President Donald Trump has pardoned Dwight and Steven Hammond. Announced July 10, the two Oregon ranchers’ case sparked the 41-day armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in January 2016.
The Hammonds were convicted in 2012 of intentionally setting fires on public lands, and the crime carried a minimum prison sentence of five years. However, a sympathetic judge issued much lighter sentences. Federal prosecutors appealed, and the Hammonds were re-sentenced in October 2015.
The decision sparked a protest from Ammon Bundy and dozens of others, who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near the Hammond ranch in southeastern Oregon from Jan. 2 to Feb. 11, 2016, complaining the Hammonds were victims of federal overreach.
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.
A statement from the White House Press Secretary said, “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.”
Ethan Lane, Executive Director of the Public Lands Council and NCBA Federal Lands, said in a statement the organization is grateful for the full pardon for the two ranchers.
“The Hammonds were forced to suffer from grave injustice for far too long, and the entire ranching community is relieved that they will be reunited with their families. No rancher undertaking normal agricultural practices should fear spending years in jail at the hands of the federal government,” Lane said.