Kim Kardashian West is asking President Donald Trump to pardon a 62-year-old great grandmother currently serving a life sentence for nonviolent drug offenses in the 90s.
Johnson was convicted of drug conspiracy and money laundering in 1997. Before that, she lost her job at FedEx, her son was killed in a motorcycle accident, she and her husband divorced, and her home was foreclosed. “I felt like a failure,” she told Mic in an op-ed. “I went into a complete panic and out of desperation, I made one of the worst decisions of my life to make some quick money. I became involved in a drug conspiracy.”
Desperate, Johnson acted as an intermediary for cocaine dealers. She has admitted she “did do something wrong,” but laments that it was “a bad choice in my life that has cost me my life.” Despite her application for clemency during his presidency, Barack Obama did not choose to set her free. She continues to serve a life sentence for her first offense, without even the possibility of parole. Now, Kim Kardashian, of all people, has added her voice to the protest
“Ms. Kardashian you are literally helping to save my life and restore me to my family,” Johnson wrote in a thank-you letter to the celebrity. “I was drowning and you have thrown me a life jacket and given me hope that this Life jacket I’m serving may one day be taken off.” She believes “history will record that Kim Kardashian had the courage to take a stand against human warehousing and was a key figure in meaningful criminal justice reform becoming a reality.”
According to CAN-DO, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating clemency for all non-violent drug offenders, Johnson is more than deserving. She has been #1 on their list of women deserving clemency since 2014 when her case was brought to their attention. She has spoken via Skype at universities including Yale and NYU and even at Google. She is a “role model inmate” with an “exemplary record.” She is an ordained minister, an amateur playwright, a GED tutor for other inmates, and even a certified counselor.
It may have began, as so many things do these days, with a tweet. But despite Kardashian’s immense fame, she is far from the first or only one supporting Johnson’s clemency. A Change.org petition has garnered over 209,000 signatures as of the time of this writing and continues to climb.