Monday, January 19, 2009

Bush Commutes Ramos & Compean's Sentences

In one of his final acts, President Bush commuted the sentences of former Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean. Ramos and Compean were sentenced to 11 and 12 years in federal prison, respectively, for shooting an unarmed illegal alien Osvaldo Aldrete Davila in February 2005. It should be noted that Davila has a long criminal record, particularly where it concerns drugs. However, it is never a good idea to shoot someone who is unarmed and doesn't represent an immediate threat to law enforcement officers or civilians even if he was fleeing the scene. It is also never a good idea to shoot someone in the backside. Furthermore, it is never a good idea for Border Patrol agents or any other law enforcement officers to file a false report. That was actually worse than shooting the guy.

That's why a pardon would have been a bad idea. The President of the United States, be it Bush, Obama or anyone, can pardon as they see fit. But just because a President can pardon doesn't a President should pardon. A pardon would have sent the message that it is acceptable for Border Patrol Agents and other law enforcement officials to abuse their authority and would encourage dereliction of duty. Ramos and Compean had to face consequences for their actions. However, their punishment did not fit the crime so a commutation was the most appropriate remedy in this situation.

Ramos and Compean will be released from prison on March 20th.

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