In 2010, the United States of America charged Oregon Ranchers Dwight Hammond and his son, Steven Hammond with Arson for:
1) Setting a government pre-approved “prescribed burn” fire which spread to 139 acres of unoccupied state land – actually raising its value according to Bureau of Land Management reports. Nobody was hurt, damages at the time were under $100 and the Hammonds extinguished the fire themselves without outside assistance.
2) Setting an unapproved “back burn” fire to save their property from a lightning-related range fire. Given their ignorance to the fact the Hammond property would be threatened by an act of God, the ranchers did not receive prior government authorization and a “burn ban” was in effect. The ranch was saved, but one acre of government land was impacted – again raising its value, according to BLM reports.
The Hammonds openly admitted to both incidents and thus the jury found them guilty of those charges, dismissing others. To avoid continued deliberations on unresolved charges, a plea deal was reached with the state.
The Government requested a five-year mandatory minimum sentence in accordance with the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. Judge Hogan thought using a terrorism related statute in the case would be improper and would violate the Eight Amendment, constituting cruel or unusual punishment.
Dwight was sentenced to three months in prison and Steven to twelve months and one day – which they both served. While they were in prison, the Government filed an appeal to the sentence with the Ninth Circuit Court and received the mandatory minimum they originally requested.
On Monday January 4th, The Hammonds surrendered themselves to continue their unconstitutional five-year mandatory minimum sentences.
The Truth About The Oregon Rancher Standoff
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