Petition to free Dwight and Steven Hammond in President Trump’s office: Signatures needed to show support
May 23, 2018
A petition to release Steven Hammond and Dwight Hammond from prison is sitting in President Trump's office.
Dave Duquette with Protect the Harvest encourages people to sign an online petition that shows their support for the Hammond men. Protect the Harvest believes that 100,000 signatures could help spur President Trump to give commutation to the men, or free them from prison. As of May 23, about 4,000 people had signed the petition.
Dwight and Steven Hammond were charged with the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 for accidentally burning about 139 acres of federal land in two separate fires – one was a back burn to protect their ranch headquarters, the other a management burn on private property to reduce overcrowding trees. Neither fire burned fence or any structures. A range technician testified under oath that the fires improved the condition of the range.
Judge Michal Hogen said he could not in good conscience sentence the father and son to the minimum five years in prison, and he gave them both less than a year.
The Department of Justice appealed for a full sentence and found a judge who sentenced the two men to the remainder of their five-year minimum sentences. They have been serving time in a California penitentiary since January of 2016 for carrying out the same fire management techniques the BLM itself uses to improve the range condition, according to Jeff Rose, BLM District Manager in that region.
The document awaiting the President's signature would provide commutation for the two men, which would require that they be released from prison but would not erase the felony from their records. Duquette said that President Trump has the ability to pardon the men as well, which would erase the convictions from their records, meaning, for one thing, they would be allowed to carry firearms again.
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Generally, individuals are allowed to apply for a pardon two years after a commutation. "But the President can do whatever he wants. He can pardon, he can look and say yeah, these guys need to be out of jail and I'm going to pardon them today," explained Duquette.
The Hammond grazing lease has not been renewed for four years, which means they are not only prevented from using their approximately 50,000 acres of forage that they have paid for, but they are also unable to utilize about 10,000 acres of their own private land that is intermingled with the federal land. Fencing their land out is not a feasible option at this time.
All who support Dwight and Steven Hammond and believe they are wrongfully imprisoned are encouraged to sign a petition of support for their clemency at https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/pardon-dwight-and-steven-hammond
Duquette said they received word May 19 that the petition for clemency had arrived in the President's office. He credits Vice President Trump and others including Republican Congressman Greg Walden of Oregon for keeping issue in front of President Trump.