On June 6, Axios broke the news that President Trump pardoned Alice Marie Johnson. Johnson, who is 63 years old, was sentenced to life in prison for a nonviolent drug offense.
The crime was Johnson’s first offense and many wondered why her punishment was so severe. She is one of many people of color who is spending their lives in jail because of either a nonviolent drug offense, a first offense, or both.
Johnson was arrested in 1993 after becoming involved with a group of people transporting cocaine. She said she started working with them because she experienced great tragedy in the early ’90s. From a divorce to a bankruptcy that caused her to lose her house to her youngest son being killed in a motorcycle accident, Johnson suffered many losses within a few years.
Because Johnson felt like she had nowhere else to turn, she became involved with the drug dealers. Although she worked with them, she claims she never actually sold or dealt drugs and instead, acted as a “telephone mule,” transporting messages between dealers.
Regardless of her minimal involvement, she was convicted of conspiracy to sell cocaine and money laundering, resulting in a sentence of life plus 25 years in a federal prison.
Johnson thought that her case was hopeless until Kim Kardashian stepped in. After hearing about Johnson’s story and posting to Twitter about it back in October, Kardashian enlisted her lawyer to try and help.
She and her lawyer, Shawn Holley, met with Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner to work towards clemency for Johnson. Eventually, Kardashian met with Trump in May and discussed Johnson’s case directly with the President.
After the meeting, she went on Twitter to divulge more about the potential pardon.
Within a week, Trump decided to pardon Johnson. This decision was part of both Trump’s recent spree of high-profile pardons, and also Kushner’s effort to highlight the issue of prison reform.
Mass incarceration is one of the country’s largest problems, especially in regard to prisoners of color. According to Refinery29, America comprises about five percent of the world’s total population but accounts for 21 percent of the world’s prisoners.vcAdditionally, black and white people use drugs at a similar rate, but black offenders are imprisoned at a rate of five times more than white offenders.
Kardashian and Kushner are looking to alleviate this problem and so far, have already been successful with Johnson.
Once the news was announced about Trump pardoning Johnson, Kardashian tweeted:
With Alice Marie Johnson now pardoned, we’ll have to wait and see who else Kardashian can aid in the fight against unlawful mass incarceration.