It seems Kim Kardashian has some talent after all.
President Trump has just commuted the life sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, after Kim Kardashian met with him last week to intercede on behalf of the imprisoned woman.
Johnson was serving a life sentence on drug charges. She has been in federal prison for more than 21 years. She is 63 years old, and would have died behind bars while serving out her sentence.
Johnson was a nonviolent offender, one of thousands serving life sentences for nonviolent crimes, usually drug-related crimes.
The White House released a statement saying that “Ms. Johnson has accepted responsibility for her past behavior and has been a model prisoner over the past two decades,” said Sarah Sanders. “While this administration will always be very tough on crime, it believed that those who have paid their debt to society and worked hard to better themselves while in prison deserve a second chance.”
President Trump also tweeted: “Good luck to Alice Johnson. Have a wonderful life!”
After being released on Wednesday from the Federal Correctional Institution in Aliceville, Alabama, Alice Johnson thanked President Trump and Kim Kardashian for their role in freeing her. “I’m free to hug my family,” she said. “I’m free to live life. I’m free to start over. I can not – this is the greatest day of my life… My heart is just bursting with gratitude for what has taken place,” she said.
Kim Kardashian met with Trump to talk prison reform, and also to try and convince him to release Johnson. It was the final step in Kardashian’s attempt to help free Alice Johnson; the reality TV star had already paid for a team of lawyers to help Johnson.
Alice Johnson’s daughter, Tretessa, also extended deep thanks to Kim Kardashian and President Trump: “I thank her from the bottom of my heart. I truly do. I’ll never forget what she’s done,” said Tretessa in an interview Wednesday. Then she continued by saying “And I thank President Trump also for extending the mercy choice on my mother and giving her a second chance because this is really saving her life.”
Kardashian, for her part, tweeted her thanks to Trump and his son in law/adviser Jared Kushner (thought to be in favor of prison reform because of his own father’s prison sentence) and “everyone who has showed compassion & contributed countless hours to this important moment for Ms. Alice Marie Johnson.”
Crucially, what President Trump has done in the Johnson case is not a full pardon. A “commutation”, which is what Trump extended to Alice Johnson, can wipe out some or all of a prison sentence. But it doesn’t overturn the original conviction for the crime, and it doesn’t restore the civil rights that a felony conviction strips from a person. (Like voting rights, for one.)
So Trump is not saying that Alice Johnson did nothing wrong; he’s saying that, after more than twenty years, she’s done her time and should be allowed back into society. According to petitions appealing for her release, Johnson has been a model prisoner. She is said to have mentored other women, written plays, and even become an ordained minister while behind bars.
Her original life sentence was for passing messages back and forth between cocaine dealers. Johnson has said that she chose to become involved in a drug conspiracy to make money in a moment of financial desperation; her son was killed, she lost her job, and her husband divorced her. Her home was foreclosed on. Johnson says she made a bad decision, admits she did something wrong.
But she has always said that she feels that her punishment did not fit the crime. Kim Kardashian felt the same way.
Apparently, President Trump agrees with them.