Oregon ranchers Dwight Lincoln Hammond, Jr. and his son, Steven Hammond will soon be free thanks to President Donald J. Trump’s full pardons of them today. Trump signed Executive Grants of Clemency for the multi-generation cattle ranchers imprisoned in connection with a fire that leaked onto a small portion of neighboring public grazing land.
In a statement from White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the administration said the evidence at trial regarding the Hammonds’ responsibility for the fire was conflicting, and the jury acquitted them on most of the charges.
“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,” the White House said in a prepared statement. “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 is now 76 and has served three years in prison, while Steven, 49, 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,” the statement reads. “Justice is overdue for Dwight and Steven Hammond, both of whom are entirely deserving of these Grants of Executive Clemency.”
The Hammonds’ case was repeatedly cited as the trigger for the 41-day Ammon Bundy occupation of the wildlife refuge that abutted the Hammond family ranch.