Kim Kardashian West meets Donald Trump to talk prison reform | News | DW | 31.05.2018
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Kim Kardashian West meets Donald Trump to talk prison reform

Kim Kardashian West has met with Donald Trump to discuss prison and sentencing reform. The wildly popular celebrity hoped the president could pardon a US woman in prison for 20 years on non-violent drug offenses.

Reality TV personality Kim Kardashian West went to the White House on Wednesday to advocate for a presidential pardon on behalf of Alice Marie Johnson, a woman serving a life sentence without parole for drug charges.

Kardashian West was set to meet with advisor Jared Kushner, who is tasked with overseeing efforts to reform the US prison system. But the 37-year-old celebrity also got to meet the president over the issue at the Oval Office.

Alice Marie Johnson was sent to prison on eight criminal counts in 1996. The eight criminal counts she was charged with had to do with a Memphis-based cocaine trafficking operation that involved more than a dozen people.

Read more: US State of Connecticut sees success in Germany-style prison reform

So far, appellate judges and the US Supreme Court have rejected her appeals for freedom. Court records show she has filed a motion for a reduction in her sentence, arguing that she had not been a leader in the cocaine operation for which she went to jail.

But federal prosecutors have opposed granting a hearing, saying that the sentence is in accord with federal laws, based on the large quantity of drugs that were involved.

According to criminal justice advocacy site CAN-DO and one of Johnson's attorneys, a request for clemency was also rejected by former President Barack Obama, for unclear reasons.

Attorney Brittany K. Barnett, who is part of Johnson's legal team, said Kardashian West's meetings at the White House "seemed to go well."

"It is now in President Trump's hands to decide whether to save Alice Johnson's life," Barnett said.

'A second chance at life'

Kardashian West said in an interview with digital news outlet Mic that she heard about Johnson's story via Twitter. Kardashian West and her husband Kanye West are prolific twitter users. Her husband recently reactivated his account and has used it to profess his admiration for president Trump, drawing much criticism from the African American community in the US, but also praise from the president himself.

Read more: Kanye West calls slavery a 'choice'

"I think that she really deserves a second chance at life," Kardashian told Mic. "I'll do whatever it takes to get her out," she added.

In a letter to US District Judge Samuel H. Mays in 2017, who now oversees her case, Johnson expressed her "deep remorse" for the crime she had committed 20 years ago and said that her "bad choices" had affected her life and impacted her entire family.

"I'm a broken woman. More time in prison cannot accomplish more justice," she said, in a subsequent letter she wrote in June.

President Donald Trump has already granted three pardons in his first two years in office. The most controversial was the pardon of disgraced Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, a Trump supporter who was convicted of violating a court order to stop traffic patrols targeting immigrants.

The White House did not comment on whether or not Trump would consider pardoning Alice Marie Johnson.

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