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Kim Kardashian Meets With Trump Over Prison Reform

        6/1/2018

Kim Kardashian

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

On Wednesday Kim Kardashian West met for an hour at the White House with President Donald Trump as well as his son-in-law and Senior White House Advisor Jared Kushner to discuss prison reform. A major focus of Kardashian West’s effort was on the case of Alice Johnson, a 62-year-old great-grandmother who was sentenced to life in prison for attempted cocaine distribution and money laundering in 1996. Kardashian West was not accompanied by her husband Kanye West, who ignited a social media firestorm recently by tweeting support of conservative commentator Candace Owens and President Trump.

Kardashian West first became involved in the Johnson case in October after viewing a video published by Mic, and has since been active in advocating for Johnson’s release, even dedicating her own legal team to the matter. Johnson, who at her sentencing was described as the “quintessential entrepreneur,” led a $50 million cocaine distribution ring that worked with the Columbia Cali cartel. However, since her incarceration, Johnson has apparently turned her life around, becoming a published author and ordained minister. She tops the organization CAN-DO Clemency’s 25 Women Deserving Clemency list.

Kardashian West has reportedly been in discussions with Jared Kushner for several months regarding the Johnson case. Kushner, whose father served a year in prison for tax evasion, illegal campaign contributions, and witness tampering in the mid-2000s, has been advocating his own prison reform agenda from within the White House. This has included the First Step Act, currently before the Senate, which creates job training and drug treatment programs as well as early release to halfway homes for non-violent offenders with good behavior.

Kushner said at a White House event earlier this month, “The single biggest thing we want to do is really define what the purpose of a prison is. Is the purpose to punish, is the purpose to warehouse, or is the purpose to rehabilitate . . . If we can start showing that we can make the prisons more purposeful and more effective at lowering the recidivism rate over time, that may help the people who are trying to make the argument for sentencing reform.”

The meeting between Kardashian West and the White House follows on the heels of President Trump’s posthumous pardon of legendary boxer Jack Johnson who was convicted in 1913 for violating the Mann Act, against “transporting women across state lines for immoral purposes.” Johnson later married the woman involved, Lucille Cameron.

Despite this meeting being touted as a prison reform summit, it remains unclear to what extent broader policy concerns were discussed, with most of the attention being focused on the Alice Johnson case. However, many from Rand Paul to Koch Industries signaled their support of the summit and their hope that broader reforms are in the works. In the current hyper-partisan political environment, perhaps prison reform is one area where bi-partisan measures can be taken.

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