In one of the most despicable uses of power in recent times, Oregon rancher Dwight Hammond and his son Steven have been persecuted, attacked and imprisoned by a vengeful federal government.
The Bureau of Land Management had long been after the Hammonds to seel their property, just like their neighbors had, but constant refusal led the government to engage in what can only be described as a massive abuse of power. The two ranchers have been sentenced to prison for 5 years under terrorism laws. Their crime? Starting legally authorized range fires (to help the ground) that spread onto government-owned land.
If you think this is a little harsh, wait until you hear the backstory.
The Hammonds are responsible for two fires, one in 2001, the other in 2006. Both were started with authorization in order to fight back against brush growth which protects against major fires and helps replenish the earth.
The fires got a little out of control and spread onto federal land. All reports indicate that the only result of the fires was to IMPROVE the actual land. If this were private land, the ranchers would have been charged with trespass and made to pay for any damages (there are laws in place on this because it is such a common occurrence when improving land).
In 2012, the ranchers went to court. The prosecution wanted them charged with terrorism under the 1996 laws, but the judge ruled that the minimum sentencing of 5 years was not a fair or reasonable response as they did not intend harm. Dwight was sentenced to 3 months and Steven to a year and one day. They served their time.
This should have been the end of it, but the Federal government was not through with them yet. The prosecutors approached the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals who were only too happy to slam the ranchers with a five-year sentence!!!
In the United States, once you have served your time, you should be free from further prosecution for the same crime. This was politically motivated vindictiveness and an abuse of power.
The president needs to step in and sort this out.