If you haven't heard the story of Alice Johnson, who's currently serving a life sentence in prison for a first-time, nonviolent drug conviction, Kim Kardashian West wants that to change. And furthermore, she wants the 62-year-old great-grandmother to be released, and she's putting in the work ― Kardashian West is apparently lobbying Trump to free Johnson, doing "whatever it takes" to bring an end to her sentence, as she detailed in an interview with Mic on Wednesday.
Johnson was convicted of the offense in 1996, and has already served more than 20 years in prison. As she herself detailed in an op-ed for CNN last week, she was essentially "given a death sentence without sitting on death row," forced to live out the rest of her days in prison, without the possibility of parole. And although former President Barack Obama granted commutations to hundreds of inmates convicted of drug-related offenses throughout his time in office, Johnson was not among them.
For the past several months, as Kardashian West told Mic in the exclusive interview, she's getting involved in Johnson's case, urging the Trump administration ― and specifically the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner ― to push for a presidential pardon or commutation.
"I’ve been in communication with the White House and trying to bring her case to the president’s desk and figure out how we can get her out,” she told Mic. “That’s such a huge step from where we started with that not even being on their radar.”
According to Kardashian West, she became aware of Johnson's story thanks to a video Mic produced about her, and it affected her so deeply that she decided to direct her personal attorney, Shawn Chapman Holley, to work on Johnson's case.
Holley, a former public defender in Los Angeles, notably worked on O.J. Simpson's defense team during his 1994-1995 murder trial, alongside vaunted civil rights attorney Johnny Cochran, and Kardashian West's own father, Robert Kardashian. She's currently a partner at the law firm Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert.
"If you think about a decision that you’ve made in your life and you get life without the possibility of parole for your first-time nonviolent offense, there’s just something so wrong with that," Kardashian West told Mic.
It's fair to say that Kardashian West has clearly made Johnson's case a priority in her life, and if you're curious to hear her explain why in her own words, you can view the video of her interview with Mic in the website's accompanying article. Needless to say, as far as the possibility of a presidential commutation or pardon is concerned, Johnson's chances lie in Trump's hands.
Kardashian West's husband Kanye West, notably, has recently been in the news due to his support for the president. Trump even went so far as to tweet his appreciation of West's vocal support, although whether this connection could be used to improve Johnson's chances of release is unclear.
For her part, however, Kardashian West has made it clear that the American public's majority disdain for Trump ― he's currently got a 42 percent approval rating ― won't dissuade her from appealing to him.
"For me, I’m just like focused on criminal justice reform, and helping one person at a time," she told Mic. "And so far, the White House has been really receptive to my calls, and I am grateful for that. And I’m not going to stop that because people personally don’t like Trump.”
It remains to be seen whether Kushner, Trump himself, or anyone in the administration will respond to these calls for mercy toward Johnson. So far, the administration has not publicly commented on her case.