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February 8, 2007

The latest on the border agents case

This AP story provides the latest developments in the border agent case (background here and here).  Here are excerpts:

A federal report released Wednesday on the shooting of a suspected drug smuggler by Border Patrol agents concurs with prosecutors that the men committed obstruction of justice by failing to report the shooting, destroying evidence and lying to investigators....  The U.S. Department of Homeland Security report on the investigation was drafted in 2006 after Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean were convicted and each was sentenced to more than a decade in federal prison.  The 77-page report was made public Wednesday and offered few if any new details on the case....

A spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., said the report only bolsters the congressman's support of the agents. "The OIG report has just emboldened our position because there is nothing in there that indicates these agents were not justified in shooting this individual," said Tara Setmayer. "This finally sheds some light on what these agents were thinking."...

"So far it looks to me like Agents Ramos and Compean may not have followed proper procedure following the shooting, which at most should have resulted in their suspension from the force, but not criminal procedure," Rep. John Culberson, D-Houston, said in a statement issued Wednesday afternoon.   Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., also asked Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., to pursue a Senate probe of the prosecution and sentencing.

I am pleased to see Senate Democrats taking interest in this case, which I consider to be an important example of the problems inherent in mandatory minimum sentencing.  As I have explained in prior posts (set out below), whether or not one believes the border agents should have been prosecuted, it is difficult to justify the extremely long sentences they received:

February 8, 2007 at 01:39 AM | Permalink


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I'm embarrassed by John Culberson's comments; he's the Congressman in the next district over from mine. What fool thinks that officers destroying evidence, obstruction of justice and lying to investigators about a shooting don't merit prosecution? (The long sentence, of course, is Congress' fault, not the prosecutor's.) What wouldn't Culberson tolerate?

Did you also see that one of these agents got beaten pretty severely in prison? Between long sentences and prisoner safety, these guys may yet do a lot to focus attention on problems with the system's dark underbelly.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Feb 8, 2007 8:03:30 AM

Glad to see you are interested in prisoner safety, Grits. I am puzzled by how low on the priority list this seems to be with the prisoner-rights folks generally.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Feb 8, 2007 1:12:06 PM

Retired teacher who understands that the one deserving correction/discipline is protected, and the ones who practice dicipline/restraint are under constant stress of knowing that the former's misconduct is supported to protect the minority community. These (Ramos and Compean)unbelievable convictions and sentencings are scaring me; who or what is our government protecting?

Posted by: Kalla Lilly | Apr 4, 2007 3:43:00 PM

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