For Release: January 19, 2009
Contact: David Almasi at
(703) 568-4727 on January 19 and 20
(202) 543-4110 x11 after January 20
or [email protected]
Black Leader Lauds Bush Commutation of Border Agents' Sentences
Washington, D.C. - Mychal Massie, the chairman of the Project 21 black leadership network, is praising the decision made today by outgoing President George W. Bush to commute the sentences of jailed Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean.
Under the terms of the commutation order, made by President Bush on his last full day in office, the imprisoned law enforcement officers will be released on March 20. Ramos and Compean were sentenced to 11 and 12 years, respectively. Much of their time since entering prison in January of 2007 has been spent in solitary confinement.
"I sincerely want to thank President Bush for commuting the sentences of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean," said Project 21's Massie. "Their freedom has been too long in coming. We are pleased that, in one of his final acts as chief executive, President Bush has done the right thing and shown these men mercy."
Ramos and Compean were prosecuted for an incident that occurred in February 2005 on the U.S.-Mexico border near El Paso, Texas. They chased Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila on foot after he abandoned a van containing 743 pounds of marijuana worth an estimated $1 million. During the chase, Ramos shot at Aldrete-Davila after Ramos thought he saw Aldrete-Davila draw a gun. Aldrete-Davila escaped across the U.S.-Mexico border, and Ramos assumed Aldrete-Davila was unhurt. In fact, Aldrete-Davila had been shot in the buttock. U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton later charged Ramos and Compean for pursuing Aldrete-Davila without supervisor approval, moving spent shell casings and improperly reporting the fired shots.
Aldrete-Davila was granted immunity to testify against Ramos and Compean. He recently plead guilty to charges that he conspired to smuggle marijuana into the United States twice after he was granted immunity and faces a jail term of between five and 40 years and $2 million in fines.
Quoted by CNN.com, an unnamed Bush Administration official said: "The President has reviewed the circumstances of this case as a whole and the conditions of confinement and believes the sentences they received are too harsh and that they, and their families, have suffered enough for their crimes."
Project 21's Massie added: "I have repeatedly told the President that their sentences were too harsh and that they did not fit the crime. I am pleased that he finally agreed."
Massie also expressed thanks "to all those who stood with us in our petitions in favor of freeing these brave men."
Project 21’s Massie was an outspoken national voice in seeking a pardon or commutation for Ramos and Compean. Massie wrote about the case in a commentary published in The Washington Times on December 28, 2007. This commentary is available at http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2007/dec/28/justice-for-two.
Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or [email protected], or visit Project 21's website at www.project21.org/P21Index.html.