President Donald Trump on Wednesday commuted the life sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, a woman convicted of a nonviolent drug offense, after Kim Kardashian West lobbied the president for clemency in Johnson’s case.
The 63-year-old great-grandmother — who has spent 22 years behind bars — became the center of discussions about prison reform spearheaded by White House adviser and the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who worked with Kardashian West to bring attention to Johnson’s situation.
Johnson was convicted in 1996 for her role in a cocaine trafficking operation in Memphis, Tennessee, according to The Associated Press.
But her case garnered attention from advocates who saw her life sentence as a harsh punishment for a first-time, nonviolent offense, especially considering her exceptional behavior throughout her time in prison.
“What is the purpose of putting a lady with no prior criminal record, on a nonviolent drug offense, in jail for her entire life?” said Memphis attorney Michael Scholl, who filed requests for her sentence to be reduced. “She’s a model inmate.”
Johnson shared her story during a interview with Mic, detailing the difficult situation in life that led her into crime, including being fired from her job, going through a divorce, and grieving the loss of her son, who was killed in a motorcycle accident.
She expressed remorse for her crimes in letters written to U.S. District Judge Samuel H. Mays, who oversees her case.
“Judge Mays I’m writing to you to express my deep remorse for the crime that I committed over 20 years ago. I made some bad choices which have not only affected my life, but have impacted my entire family,” she wrote.
In another letter last year she wrote: “I’m a broken woman. More time in prison cannot accomplish more justice.”
Kardashian West took an interest in Johnson’s story after seeing it online, and she explained her commitment to the case to Mic.
“I think that she really deserves a second chance at life,” Kardashian West said. “I’ll do whatever it takes to get her out.”
In a statement from the White House announcing that Johnson’s sentence would be commuted, the Trump administration explained that the decision was made in light of her excellent conduct while in prison.
“Despite receiving a life sentence, Alice worked hard to rehabilitate herself in prison, and act as a mentor to her fellow inmates,” the statement said.
“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.”
Johnson’s case is the latest high-profile act of clemency by Trump, who earlier granted a full pardon to conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, as well as a posthumous pardon for boxing champion Jack Johnson.