Two years ago, two Border Patrol Agents were sentenced to an unprecedented and harsh term in prison for working to protect our border with Mexico. Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean are sitting in prison, both in solitary confinement for their own safety from general prison populations. Ramos is in a facility in Pheonix and Compean in Ohio. Were it not for an overzealous U.S. Attorney, Johnny Sutton, who supervised the prosecution of these two agents, they both would be out of prison and caring for their families.
President Bush appointed Sutton to his position. Sutton, for whatever reason, decided to make the prosecution of these two men his personal mission. He used 18 U.S.C.924(c) as the statute for sentencing. It is a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in jail for anyone who fires a gun while "during and in relation to any crime of violence." Sutton overreached. If the mandatory 10 years had not come into play, the agents would have served the required prison time for the offenses with which they were charged.
From a letter sent to President Bush by Senator John Cornyn and Senator Dianne Feinstein: "For starters, prosecutors hid from the jury the full criminal character of the drug smuggler, Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila, who was also the government's key witness. The jury was kept form hearing one of the most critical pieces of information regarding the case - that Aldrete-Davila was running drugs at the time of his altercation with the border agents. Nor did the jury hear that after he was granted immunity to testify against the agents, Aldrete-Divila breached his agreement and continued to smuggle drugs into this country. Finally, the jury was told neither that Aldrete-Divila's friends had organized a "hunting party" to shoot border agents in revenge for his injuries, nor that Aldrete-Davila had refused to help law enforcement identify and stop these vigilantes. Instead of hearing this evidence, the jury was told by the prosecutor in closing statements that Aldrete-Davila had run from the border agents simply because he wanted to go home. Several jurors have since ome forward to state that if they had been told about the excluded evidence, they would have changed their verdict."
Ramos and Compean are both far from home, from their families who are not able to visit but infrequently. Both had stellar work records. Both have wives and children and large extended families.
Senators Cornyn and Feinstein wrote to President Bush - two letters so far - urging commutation of their sentences. While both Senators understand that law enforcement officers are not above the law, the same goes for prosecutorial overreach.
Our country needs hard working men and women like Ramos and Compean to pursue careers serving in the Border Patrol. It is time they were both released. They do not deserve 10 more years locked away due to shady deals by Johnny Sutton.