BLM Pursued Eco-Terrorism Charges against Oregon Ranchers

  Two Oregon ranchers were sentenced last week to five years in federal prison “under terrorism statutes” for a 2001 incident in which they claim they were setting preventative fires on their own land that eventually spread elsewhere. Unfortunately, those fires spread to Bureau of Land Management-owned land. Dwight and Steven Hammond, father and son ranchers from Harney County, paid the price for this incident. They served relatively light sentences in federal prison. At the time, U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan had given the Hammonds a lighter sentencing because he felt “that a five-year term would violate the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment because it’s “grossly disproportionate to the severity of the offenses here.”” However, the federal government didn’t see it that way and appealed in order to push for harsher sentences. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the men could be charged again, under the determination that judges don’t have the discretion to disregard the requirements of mandatory minimum sentencing, regardless of how unreasonable the charge. At the re-sentencing, U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken compared what happened to “eco-terrorism” and determined that the previous ruling by Judge Hogan was too lenient. Many view this … Continue reading BLM Pursued Eco-Terrorism Charges against Oregon Ranchers