Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Ranchers report to prison as sheriff calls for end to ‘armed occupation’

The father-and-son ranchers whose legal battle spurred the takeover of a federal wildlife building in eastern Oregon reported to prison Monday as the local sheriff called on armed militants to “end this peacefully.” Harney County Sheriff David M. Ward said at a press conference that Dwight and Steven Hammond, the father-and-son ranchers whose legal battle over arson convictions spurred the protest, reported at 1:37 p.m. Monday to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons in California. Attorneys for the Hammonds, who have previously said that the occupiers do not speak for them, released a statement Monday saying that their clients “respect the rule of law.” “Dwight and Steven Hammond respect the rule of law. They have litigated this matter within the federal courts for over five years and, in every instance, have followed the order of the court without incident or violation,” said the statement from attorneys W. Alan Schroeder, Kendra M. Matthews and Lawrence Matasar. The attorneys said they will seek executive clemency from President Obama for their clients, who had already served sentences but were resentenced to an additional five years for a 2006 accident in which a prescribed burn on their property spread onto federal land, charring 127 acres. Prosecutors sought the additional sentence under the federal Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, which prompted an outcry from ranchers and others who described the penalty as overkill. Randal O’Toole, a senior fellow with the libertarian Cato Institute who lives near Bend, Oregon, called the five-year sentences “totally insane.” “This sets a terrible precedent because anybody who owns land in the West is going to be near federal land, and a lot of those landowners need to burn their land to prevent fire hazards from developing, because if you don’t burn, you get a huge buildup of fuel,” Mr. O’Toole said. “So you have to burn, and now the precedent is if your burn laps over onto federal land on just one acre, you go to jail for five years.”...Washington Times

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