Kim Kardashian's New Podcast On Criminal Justice Reform Sparks Backlash
Reality star, makeup mogul, aspiring lawyer — and now, Kim Kardashian is adding "podcast producer" to her long list of jobs. On Wednesday, June 17, CNN reported that Kim Kardashian is developing a podcast about criminal justice reform and wrongful convictions, in partnership with Spotify. The podcast is slated to premiere in September 2020, though an exact launch date has not yet been announced.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Kardashian's upcoming show — tentatively titled Proving Innocence and co-produced by Lori Rothschild Ansaldi — will follow Ansaldi's work as she investigates the case of Kevin Keith. In February 1994, Keith was arrested on suspicion of shooting three people in Bucyrus, Ohio, but he was never questioned by police before his arrest and there was no solid evidence linking him to the crime. Three months later, he was convicted of a triple homicide and sentenced to death; Keith has always maintained his innocence.
Keith's brother, Charles, and public defender Rachel Troutman took on his case, and they discovered that one of the victim's daughters claimed that Keith was not involved in the shooting, and that the "key witness" police had used in the case never actually existed. In 2010, they successfully appealed Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, who grated Keith clemency just days before he was due to be executed. Keith is currently serving out a life sentence.
While it's unclear how big of a role Kardashian will play in the podcast, the KKW Beauty founder has been involved in Keith's appeal since July 2018, when she shared several tweets advocating for his release. "I heard about Kevin Keith’s case last year & the more I learn about it, the more I believe the world needs to hear what happened to him!" she wrote at the time. "He was on death row & came w/in days of execution before the governor of Ohio commuted his sentence to life w/o parole."
Kardashian even had a "video visit" with Keith around the same time, and wrote that she was "so impressed w/ the amazing programs he created in prison to help others inside better themselves!" She continued, "So much evidence has been uncovered proving Kevin’s innocence. I hope justice is served soon & he is released." Kardashian also shared her support for a documentary chronicling Keith's case, as well as justiceforkevin.org, who seem to be involved with her upcoming podcast.
Though Kardashian's involvement will likely bring even more attention to Keith's case, the podcast announcement was also met with its fair share of criticism, primarily from people who feel that there are other advocates for justice reform who are more deserving of her platform. "There are actual factual Black people who have dedicated their life to prison reform," Twitter user @TheGrapevineTV wrote. "But they don’t have Kim Kardashian’s whiteness and money, so they won’t get a podcast deal or the recognition for their work. This is white supremacy in action."
Backlash aside, the upcoming podcast is not the first time that Kardashian has used her platform to advocate for the release of wrongfully convicted prisoners and criminal justice reform. In April, Kim Kardashian West: The Justice Project premiered on Oxygen, and the series followed the reality star as she explored the cases of four prisoners who legal experts believe have been wrongfully incarcerated. She is currently studying to become a lawyer, and plans to take the bar exam in 2022, which means that Kim Kardashian's tenure as a criminal justice reformer is just getting started.