Trump Commutes Drug Offender's Sentence After Kim Kardashian Push

By Victoria Kim 06/07/18

This is the first commutation of Trump’s presidency. 

Kim Kardashian and Donald Trump
Photo via Twitter

On Wednesday (June 6), President Trump commuted the prison sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, a non-violent drug offender, after meeting with fellow reality TV veteran Kim Kardashian West, who urged the president to reconsider Johnson’s life sentence.

This is the first commutation of Trump’s presidency. Kardashian met with the president at the White House last Wednesday (May 30) to discuss prison and sentencing reform, including the possibility of revisiting Johnson’s case. Johnson, 63, was sentenced in 1996 as a first-time, non-violent drug offender, with no chance of parole. At the time of her release on Wednesday, she had served more than 21 years in prison.

In her essay for CNN—“Why Kim Kardashian Wanted President Trump to Free Me”—Johnson describes how she got involved with drug sellers. “This was a road I never dreamed of venturing down. I became what is called a telephone mule, passing messages between the distributors and sellers. I participated in drug conspiracy, and I was wrong,” she recalled.

Johnson had applied for clemency during the Obama administration three times, with no success. President Barack Obama commuted a total of 1,715 prison sentences during his time in office—this included 568 life sentences. The majority of these were for non-violent drug crimes.

While serving time, Johnson was described by her warden Arcala Washington-Adduci as a “model inmate who is willing to go above and beyond in all work tasks.” Johnson has spent her time becoming an ordained minister and mentor to young women in prison. “And if I get out,” Johnson said at the time, “I have a job secured, and plan to continue to help those in prison and work hard to change our justice system.”

“Justice has been served today, and it’s long overdue. Alice has more than paid her debt to society as a nonviolent drug offender,” said Johnson’s attorney Brittany K. Barnett in a statement. “Life in prison without the possibility of parole screams that a person is beyond hope, beyond redemption. And in Alice’s case, it is a punishment that absolutely did not fit the crime.”

In its own statement, the White House said, “While this Administration will always be very tough on crime, it believes that those who have paid their debt to society and worked hard to better themselves while in prison deserve a second chance.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr