Monday, January 19, 2009

Breaking News: Bush commutes sentences of former Border Patrol agents

CNN reports that, on his final full day in office, President Bush issued commutations for two former border patrol agents convicted in 2006 of shooting an undocumented immigrant who was smuggling drugs at the time. The prison sentences of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean will now end March 20. Ramos had received an 11-year prison sentence; Compean had received a 12-year sentence.  The Fifth Circuit had refused to disturb the convictions.

The Department of Justice press release lists the terms of the commutations.  The prison sentences are set to expire on March 20, 2009, with the three year term of supervised release with its conditions and the fines left intact.

The N.Y. Times reported that "[a] senior White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the president `thinks [Ramos and Compean] were fairly tried and received a just verdict' but that the punishment was `excessive, especially given the harsh conditions in which they have to serve their sentences.'” Hundreds of other defendants had petitioned for leniency. President Bush used his clemency power to aid only Mr. Ramos and Mr. Compean. He leaves office having granted 200 pardons and commutations, the fewest of any two-term president in modern times. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Bush issued 33 clemency orders, an unusually fast clip for him. In the case of the Border Patrol agents, Mr. Bush granted clemency without a formal recommendation from the Justice Department, which had not yet completed its review.

AP reported that "Mexico's Deputy Secretary for Foreign Relations Carlos Rico condemned the [commutation of the sentences] and said Mexican officials had lobbied hard against it. `This is a message of impunity,' Rico said at a news conference. `It's difficult to understand.'"


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by Teh Nutroots | The two border agents shot an unarmed drug smuggler Osvaldo Aldrete Davila ("in the buttocks") as he was trying to flee across the Rio Grande have had their sentences commuted. "Wingnuts of the Lou Dobbs variety will be dancing in the... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 19, 2009 12:51:04 PM


I think most readers of this blog will be pleased to see these men released from prison and reunited with their families. Between the two of them they have five boys and one girl, ranging in age from 2 to 15.

I wonder if the NY Times has ever done a story about the children of these two men and the damage done to them by having their fathers taken away.

Posted by: Laura | Jan 20, 2009 7:13:36 AM

I am pleased that these two felons had their sentences commuted by Bush, because it would have been a controversial cloud hanging over the head of the new administration. I also believe that the original sentence might have been somewhat harsh. However, these people were the law, and they violated the public trust. They tampered with evidence, and colluded to falsify evidence, as well as their testimony. They treated a criminal as less than human, and in doing so smeared the integrity of all of us, as well as our government. These people are not heroes, they are villians. Let us be clear on that. This was not a victory for the Hunter Duncan contigent, this was the merciful end to a sad chapter in our government's history.

Posted by: Robert Gittelson | Jan 20, 2009 1:46:34 PM

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