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Friday, August 23, 2019
HomeNewsPoliticsTrump Commutes Sentence of Alice Johnson, First-Time Offender Serving Life Without Parole

Trump Commutes Sentence of Alice Johnson, First-Time Offender Serving Life Without Parole

President Donald J. Trump, left, hands a pen to Isaac Newton Farris Jr., a nephew of slain Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., after signing a proclamation in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., Day. Alice Marie Johnson, right. (Photos: White House/CAN-DO Clemency Project)
President Donald J. Trump, left, hands a pen to Isaac Newton Farris Jr., a nephew of slain Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., after signing a proclamation in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., Day. Alice Marie Johnson, right. (Photos: White House/CAN-DO Clemency Project)

President Donald J. Trump, left, hands a pen to Isaac Newton Farris Jr., a nephew of slain Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., after signing a proclamation in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., Day. Alice Marie Johnson, right. (Photos: White House/CAN-DO Clemency Project)

President Donald Trump commuted the sentence of Alice Johnson, a 63-year-old great-grandmother who served nearly 22 years in federal prison for a first-time offense. The announcement, which last week People’s Pundit Daily (PPD) reported was imminent, comes after Kim Kardashian West visited the White House to speak on her behalf.

“Today, President Donald J. Trump granted a commutation to Alice Marie Johnson, a 63-year-old great-grandmother who has served almost 22 years in Federal prison for a first-time criminal offense,” the White House said in a statement. “Ms. Johnson has accepted responsibility for her past behavior and has been a model prisoner over the past two decades.”

For months, Ms. Kardashian West had been discussing the case with Jared Kushner, the president’s advisor and son-in-law. She took to Twitter elated over the news after speaking with Ms. Johnson.

“The phone call I just had with Alice will forever be one of my best memories,” she tweeted. “Telling her for the first time and hearing her screams while crying together is a moment I will never forget.”

On October 31, 1996, Ms. Johnson was given what she has referred to as “unexecuted death sentence.” She was charged with conspiracy to possess cocaine; attempted possession of cocaine and money laundering. She got a life sentence without parole.

Under financial distress, she got involved in the drug trade. She became a telephone mule, passing messages between the distributors and sellers. Ms. Johnson lost her decade-long job with FedEx — seven of which were in management — due to a gambling addiction. She filed for bankruptcy in 1991, her house was foreclosed on and her youngest son, Cory, was killed in a scooter accident in 1992.

“I made some very poor decisions out of desperation,” she wrote in an op-ed for CNN after Barack Obama refused to grant her clemency. “I participated in a drug conspiracy and I was wrong.”

It was her first offense and all charges were nonviolent. But 10 of her coconspirators were eager to make deals with the prosecution in exchange for dropped or reduced charges. She was left holding the bag of legal responsibility, alone. The co-defendants who testified against her were given sentences ranging from probation without jail time to 10 years.

Ms. Johnson was sentenced to life in prison without parole, plus 25 years.

Still, she has consistently taken responsibility for her actions and spent her more than two decades behind bars becoming an ordained minister, a mentor to young women who are also in prison and a screen play-writer.

“Since [Ms. Johnson’s] arrival at this institution, she has exhibited outstanding and exemplary work ethic,” Warden Arcala Washington-Adduci said of Ms. Johnson’s behavior as an inmate. “She is considered to be a model inmate who is willing to go above and beyond in all work tasks.”

Ms. Johnson’s case gained attention and made national headlines after she appeared in a Mic video op-ed in October 2017 from inside a federal prison in Aliceville, Alabama.

In an exclusive interview with Mic after the meeting at the White House, Mrs. Kardashian West said President Trump “really spent the time to listen to our case that we were making for Alice. He really understood, and I am very hopeful that this will turn out really positively.”

“So grateful to @realDonaldTrump, Jared Kushner & to everyone who has showed compassion & contributed countless hours to this important moment for Ms. Alice Marie Johnson,” she wrote in another tweet. “Her commutation is inspirational & gives hope to so many others who are also deserving of a second chance.”

“I hope to continue this important work by working together with organizations who have been fighting this fight for much longer than I have and deserve the recognition.”

This is one of more than 110 case studies identified by the ACLU that involve prisoners serving life without parole for nonviolent offenses.

“The punishments these people received are grotesquely out of proportion to the crimes they committed,” said Jennifer Turner, ACLU researcher and author of the report. “In a humane society, we can hold people accountable for drug and property crimes without throwing away the key.”

Worth noting, not all cases in the report, titled “A Living Death,” are like this case, meaning truly nonviolent in nature. It does include those charged with nonviolent crimes as part of a plea agreement.

“Despite receiving a life sentence, Alice worked hard to rehabilitate herself in prison, and act as a mentor to her fellow inmates. Her Warden, Case Manager, and Vocational Training Instructor have all written letters in support of her clemency,” the White House added. “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.”

Ms. Johnson will be released from prison just after celebrating her 63rd birthday.

(Correction: A previous version of this article stated Alice Marie Johnson was 62-years old. She just celebrated her 63rd birthday.)

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