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:
- I first reported on the plight of Ramos and Compean in a Feb. 7, 2007, post.
- 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.
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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