***Press Statement*** Rohrabacher Leads Bipartisan Appeal To U.S. Pardon Attorney On Behalf Of Imprisoned Border Agents
Washington, Nov 20, 2008 -
Today, Reps Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and William Delahunt (D-MA) sent an official letter to U.S. Pardon Attorney Ronald Rogers [PDF], asking for his recommendation to the President for commutation for wrongly imprisoned Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean. Several Congressional appeals have been sent directly to the President in the past, however, this is the first attempt to voice support through the “official process.”
“Ramos and Compean have been living in the torture of solitary confinement for almost two years for something they never should have been prosecuted for in the first place,” said Rohrabacher. “We are pleading with the Pardon Attorney to make a favorable recommendation of commutation to the President so he can finally do the right thing by these men and their families. “Mr. President, don’t leave Ramos and Compean behind as you leave the White House.”
Ramos and Compean are currently serving 11 and 12 years sentences, respectively. The letter focuses on the misapplication of 18 U.S.C 924 (c), “discharge of a firearm in commission of a crime of violence,” which was stacked on top of lesser charges and carries a mandatory 10 year minimum sentence.
“Although the punishment was set by Congress, we believe the application of 18 U.S.C 924 (c) in the case of Ramos and Compean is outside its original legislative intent,” states the letter. “The legislation’s chief sponsor…specifically stated during debate in 1968 that §924 (c) was intended to ‘persuade the man who is tempted to commit a federal felony to leave his gun at home.’ Clearly, law enforcement officers should not leave their guns at home, rather they are required to carry them and permitted to discharge their weapons in the line of duty when warranted.”
The letter also points out that U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, whose office prosecuted the agents, has stated his concerns with the harshness of the sentences.
H. Con. Res. 267 [PDF], a resolution with the same commutation request, has also been introduced with a current list of eighty two bipartisan co-sponsors.