WASHINGTON — President Trump today commuted the sentence of a first-time nonviolent drug offender whose case was championed by Kim Kardashian on a recent visit to the Oval Office.
Alice Marie Johnson, 63, of Memphis, Tenn., was sentenced to life in prison in 1996 for conspiracy to possess cocaine and attempted possession of cocaine. After her marriage fell apart, she lost her son in an accident, and she lost her job, Johnson became involved with a drug ring that transported and distributed cocaine. Johnson said her role was that of a go-between, relaying messages but not personally making drug deals or selling drugs.
Her co-defendants who testified against her at the time received sentences ranging from probation to 10 years, while Johnson received life with parole plus 25 years.
“We are optimistic about Ms. Johnson’s future and hopeful that she — and so many like her — will get a second chance at life,” Kardashian said after pleading Johnson’s case to Trump.
Today, Kardashian tweeted, “So grateful to @realDonaldTrump, Jared Kushner & to everyone who has showed compassion & contributed countless hours to this important moment for Ms. Alice Marie Johnson. Her commutation is inspirational & gives hope to so many others who are also deserving of a second chance.”
“I hope to continue this important work by working together with organizations who have been fighting this fight for much longer than I have and deserve the recognition,” she added.
Behind bars, Johnson has written plays, earned a theology degree, offered pastoral counseling, taught wellness classes, helped other inmates attain their GED, and much more.
The White House said Johnson “has accepted responsibility for her past behavior and has been a model prisoner over the past two decades.”
“Despite receiving a life sentence, Alice worked hard to rehabilitate herself in prison, and act as a mentor to her fellow inmates. Her warden, case manager, and vocational training instructor have all written letters in support of her clemency. According to her Warden, Arcala Washington-Adduci, ‘since [Ms. Johnson’s] arrival at this institution, she has exhibited outstanding and exemplary work ethic. She is considered to be a model inmate who is willing to go above and beyond in all work tasks,'” the statement continued. “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.”
ACLU attorney Jennifer Turner, who represented Johnson in her bid for clemency, urged Trump “to do the same for other federal prisoners serving extreme sentences that don’t match the offenses, while reforming our draconian sentencing laws that produce these senseless punishments.”
“This country’s addiction to mass incarceration has devastated millions of families like Alice’s, with emotional and economic consequences that can last generations,” she added.