Fri, Jun 01, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Trump hears Kardashian’s appeal for convict’s pardon

AP, WASHINGTON

US reality TV star Kim Kardashian West on Wednesday paid a visit to the White House to make a case to US President Donald Trump and his administration on behalf of a woman serving a life sentence for drug offenses.

Kardashian West has been urging the president to pardon Alice Marie Johnson, 63, who has spent more than two decades behind bars and is not eligible for parole.

It was initially unclear whether she would have the chance to sit down with Trump while she was in Washington, but Trump confirmed the meeting via Twitter, writing, “Great meeting with @KimKardashian today, talked about prison reform and sentencing.”

Johnson was convicted in 1996 on eight criminal counts related to a Memphis-based cocaine trafficking operation involving more than a dozen people. The 1994 indictment describes dozens of deliveries and drug transactions, many involving Johnson.

She was sentenced to life in prison in 1997, and appellate judges and the US Supreme Court have rejected her appeals.

Court records showed that she has a motion pending for a reduction in her sentence, but federal prosecutors are opposed, saying in a court filing that the sentence is in accord with federal guidelines, based on the large quantity of drugs involved.

A criminal justice advocacy Web site, CAN-DO, and one of Johnson’s attorneys said a request for clemency was rejected by former US president Barack Obama.

The reasons are unclear.

A 1997 Associated Press story on Johnson’s sentencing said that she headed up a multimillion-dollar drug ring.

However, Memphis attorney Michael Scholl, who filed the latest court documents in her request for a sentence reduction, said she was not a leader in the cocaine operation.

“What is the purpose of putting a lady with no prior criminal record, on a nonviolent drug offense, in jail for her entire life?” he said in a telephone interview. “She’s a model inmate.”

Attorney Brittany Barnett, a member of Johnson’s legal team, said that Kardashian West had hoped to discuss the issue with Trump directly.

She said that after the meeting that, she consulted with those who attended and said it “seemed to go well.”

“It is now in President Trump’s hands to decide whether to save Alice Johnson’s life,” Barnett said.

In an interview with Mic released earlier this month, Kardashian West said she was moved by Johnson’s story after seeing a video by the news outlet on Twitter.

Trump has issued just a handful of pardons, including one for former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio, a staunch campaign supporter; one for Scooter Libby, who served as chief of staff to then-US vice president Dick Cheney; and one for a US Navy sailor convicted of taking photos of classified portions of a submarine.

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