Hammonds are home: Dwight and Steven out of prison and back to Oregon
Statement from the Hammond family, July 10
DIAMOND, Ore. — Today, President Trump issued an Executive Grant of Clemency, which is a full pardon, to Dwight and Steven Hammond. Our family is grateful to the president and all who worked to make this possible, and to bring this about.
From long before our family’s legal challenges, through the trial in 2012, the re-sentencing and return to federal prison in 2016, and the last several years while Dwight and Steven were in federal prison, Dwight and Steven and our family have done all we can do to demonstrate faith in our country and in principles of decency, fairness and justice. We have been a cattle ranching family dedicated to basic principles, and a basic life. With Dwight and Steven returning home we will continue on our path, continue ranching and continue believing in America.
The original judge who sentenced Dwight and Steven, openly stated that the laws under which the prosecution took place, specifically the mandatory minimum sentences that were required – were unjust and shock the conscience. Yet, prosecutors appealed his ruling, and today President Trump accurately described that appeal as “an overzealous appeal.” We agree that it was overzealous and share the opinion that there is no place in our courts or anywhere else in the administration of our federal government for overzealousness, and the kind of animus that has been directed at our family by federal officers for years.
Again, we express gratitude for the support we’ve received from our local community, for all those who wrote letters of support, for those who worked behind the scenes, and for those who have stood by our family through these hard times. While we recognize that our path forward will still be difficult, like it is with virtually all ranching families, we are hopeful that this action by President Trump today, will also help signal the need for a more measured and just approach by federal agents, federal officers and federal prosecutors — in all that they do.
During this whole ordeal there has been a lot of false information in the media. Our family has already paid $400,000 related to the civil damages alleged by the government in this matter, in addition to the combined seven years Dwight and Steven have spent in prison. We are hopeful that respected media outlets will use professional discretion and judgment before repeating false and misleading stories about the history of this legal ordeal. All of us have a duty to stand up for core American principles. Today, the president of the United States has blessed our family by doing so. As Susie said earlier this morning, “We’ve been waiting a long time” but today’s decision by the president, “is wonderful.” We are very anxiously looking forward to seeing Dwight and Steven home.
Dwight and Steven Hammond have returned home to Burns, Ore., after President Donald Trump announced that he was granting them a full pardon.
The two men have served collectively over seven years in prison for the approximately 140 acres of federal land they burned in two separate fires. One fire was a backburn, set to protect their home quarters, the other was a management fire that spilled over and burned a small amount of federal land, but no fences or structures.
Upon arrival in Oregon, the two men met with a group of media and supporters. “We received thousands of letters,” said Steven, with strong emotion in his voice.
“Those people that were able to write letters, there was one that obviously tipped the scale, so keep active,” he said.
“God prepares you – if He takes you to it, He will bring you through it,” he said about life in prison.
Susie Hammond said, “Thank you to all of you, you are wonderful human beings.” She specifically thanked Forrest Lucas and Dave Duquette with Protect the Harvest for their role in reaching President Trump.
“There’s no way we can thank everyone enough,” Dwight said. “The people helping here have been working, helping, sympathizing and fighting their own battles,” Dwight said.
Regarding the standoff that began when the the Hammonds were arrested, Steve said he believed the protesters had good intentions. “I don’t know how it was received, I was out of the picture.”
“The network that makes the family operation work is far outside the family,” Steven said.
“It’s not about us two guys standing up here, it’s about America. Until we can put God back in our schools … I hope we can work with the federal government, maybe start here in Oregon. And you people have to be the ones that do that,” Dwight said.
RETURN TO NORMAL
The Hammonds look forward to returning to their daily ranch work, and seeking a semblance of normalcy.
Friend and neighbor Erin Maupin, Burns, Ore., was with Susie Hammond within a few moments of Susie taking the call from the White House that her husband and son had been pardoned.
Maupin said that as of now, the Hammonds’ grazing permit still has not been renewed.
The family has leased other land and sold cattle in order to continue their ranching enterprise, but those measures are not sustainable in the long term, and they will need their grazing permit renewed in order to remain viable, Maupin said.
Supporters are encouraged to continue asking congressmen, representatives and the Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke, for a renewal of the Hammonds’ grazing permits. The Hammonds have been unable to utilize their BLM permits, as well as about 10,000 acres of their own private property that is unfenced and intermingled with the federal lands.
The men were charged with violating an anti-terrorism law that required a five year minimum sentence, so even though the original sentencing judge said it would “shock the conscience of the court” to sentence them to the full five years, another federal attorney followed up by taking them back to court for a full sentence.
The two men peacefully gave themselves up in January of 2016. Their arrest and imprisonment inspired a protest that turned into an occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge near Burns, which came to a dramatic close when Arizona rancher Lavoy Finicum was shot and killed by police officers and the other protesters were arrested at a vehicle stop when the caravan traveled to a meeting in John Day, Ore. ❖