President Trump on Tuesday pardoned father-and-son cattle ranchers in Oregon who were sentenced to serve prison time on two separate occasions for the same charges of arson on public lands, the Washington Post reports. The return to prison of Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond helped fuel the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said an “overzealous appeal” of the Hammonds’s original sentences during the Obama administration, which sent them back to prison, was “unjust.” She said, “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. Justice is overdue.”
The Hammonds were convicted of crimes that require a mandatory minimum prison sentence of five years under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. A judge, however, initially gave Dwight Hammond three months and his son Steven Hammond a year and a day behind bars. The government won an appeal over the Hammonds’ sentences in 2015, and the two men were resentenced to serve out the remaining years of a five-year minimum. Their convictions drew sharp rebukes from the local community amid allegations that the family was aggressively prosecuted using anti-terrorism statutes because they were outspoken about public land use in rural Oregon.