Bush Commutes Sentences of Border Patrol Agents (Updated)

Fox News just announced that President George W. Bush has commuted the sentences of — but not pardoned — two unjustly-convicted U.S. Border Patrol agents, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean.

According to an Associated Press report citing a senior administration official, Bush decided against a pardon and opted instead to commute the prison sentences he believed were excessive.

While welcome, the news is too long in coming for the agents who began serving a combined 23 years in prison Jan. 17, 2007, after being charged with what they described as a nonexistent crime and being convicted by a jury given improper instructions by the trial judge.

Furthermore, the commutation of sentences means that the two will carry criminal records with them for the remainder of their lives — unless, that is, another president opts to grant them a full pardon at some future date.

Below is a chronology of events related to the agents as covered on this blog:

  • Five months later, I used another post to point readers to the America’s Most Wanted video that highlighted their case.
  • In a September 2007 post, I pointed readers to a Washington Times update about the two agents that was published after they asked a federal appeals court to overturn their convictions.
  • Most recently, I highlighted the Dec. 9 letter Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) sent to President Bush, asking for him to pardon the Border Patrol agents before he left office.

* * *

UPDATE 1/19/09 at 1:06 p.m. Central:  Below is a link to the White House news release about the commutations:

President George W. Bush Grants Commutations

5 thoughts on “Bush Commutes Sentences of Border Patrol Agents (Updated)

  1. Thank you, president Bush. Wish it was full pardon, but thank you from the front lines of Southern Arizona.

  2. Pardon? They were lucky to get commutation!

    The two former agents, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean, had attracted considerable support among advocates of tougher border security, who argued that the agents were just doing their jobs.

    “Nothing could be further from the truth,” the lead prosecutor in the case said in 2007, scoffing at the idea that the defendants were defending themselves. The agents said at trial that they had scuffled with the dealer, Osvaldo Aldrete Davila.

    “These agents shot someone whom they knew to be unarmed and running away,” said the prosecutor, United States Attorney Johnny Sutton. “They destroyed evidence, covered up a crime scene and then filed false reports about what happened. It is shocking that there are people who believe it is O.K. for agents to shoot an unarmed suspect who is running away.”

    I am a die hard Republican and Sutton is too, but what these officers did after the fact is incredible. President Bush knew this also.

  3. Brad — When you delve further into the details of this case, I think you’ll find these agents got a raw deal in having to serve two years in prison. They should have never been convicted, regardless of what the prosecutor says.

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