President Donald Trump has once again exercised his right to grant clemency, this time using it to pardon a father and son, both ranchers from eastern Oregon and both convicted of arson, for setting fires on federal lands.
76-year-old Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son, 49-year-old Steven Hammond, were convicted for starting a fire in 2001, one that was allegedly meant to cover up their deer poaching, according to NBC News.
The first blaze they started went on to destroy vegetation in 139 acres of federal land. Steven Hammond would later set yet another fire in 2006, and both ranchers were convicted for the two fires in a 2012 trial by jury. They have been in a California prison since.
A judge earlier sentenced Dwight Hammond Jr. to three months, with his son getting a year of prison time for setting two fires. This was after they successfully argued that having five-year sentences as a mandatory minimum was unconstitutional.
The Hammonds, having served their sentences and earning their freedom, were sent back in jail after the Justice Department appealed the reduced sentences, with the second judge ordering them to serve out the mandatory five-year terms.
The second sentencing sparked protests in Oregon, with Ammon Bundy and others occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, starting a stand-off that lasted more than a month, according to CBS News.
The statement from the White House called the previous administration's appeal "overzealous" and the new prison terms "unjust." It also called to question the evidence used at the trial that it called "conflicting," as well.
"The Hammonds are devoted family men, respected contributors to their local community, and have widespread support from their neighbors, local law enforcement, and farmers and ranchers across the West," the statement went on, noting that father and son has already paid $400,000 in settlements, aside from serving as long as four years in prison.