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Posted: June 14, 2018

Kim Kardashian on working to help Alice Johnson: ‘I just didn’t want to give up’

Kim Kardashian West met Alice Johnson, the 63-year-old woman whose life sentence she worked to have commuted, for the first time in Memphis, Tennessee, Wednesday. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
Kim Kardashian West met Alice Johnson, the 63-year-old woman whose life sentence she worked to have commuted, for the first time in Memphis, Tennessee, Wednesday. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

By Kelcie Willis, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

MEMPHIS, Tenn. —

On Wednesday, Kim Kardashian West and Alice Johnson met for the first time since Johnson’s life sentence was commuted.

Kardashian West and Johnson spoke with Hoda Kotb on the “Today” show about meeting for the first time, Kardashian West’s work to have Johnson freed and the possibility of more sentences being commuted.

>> Read more trending news 

Johnson, 63, served more than 21 years for nonviolent charges related to drug possession and money-laundering. NBC News reported that, according to the 1994 incitement, Johnson led a multi-state cocaine trafficking operation in the early 1990s. Johnson said a series of personal struggles -- divorce, the death of her youngest son and bankruptcy -- led her to need money for her family fast. When she met Kardashian West, she thanked her for working to get President Donald Trump to commute her sentence.

Kardashian West, 37, found out about Johnson’s story last year. 

“I knew that I had the resources to do that. It became this mission that I just didn’t want to give up,” she said.

Kardashian West got her attorney involved to find out how she could help.

“I mean, I think to some people it might seem like, ‘OK, Kim made a phone call to the president, showed up.’ We had been in talks and working on this for seven months. And it wasn't an instant thing. It was a lot of work.”

Kardashian West started the work by calling Ivanka Trump, President Trump’s daughter and adviser. The call eventually led to the May 20 meeting between Kardashian West and the president and a week later, Johnson’s sentence was commuted.

Kardashian West called Johnson to give her the news.

“You’re going home,” Kardashian West said.

“When she said that, I went into full-fledged Pentecostal holy dance,” Johnson said. “I started screaming and jumping.”

Johnson says she will continue to work to bring attention to those who have been incarcerated for first -time, nonviolent drug offenses.

“I plan on continuing to magnify this issue,” Johnson said. “I’m just an example, but I'm not the only one. There are so many others like me whose faces are not here, who are not sitting next to a war angel, who deserve clemency as much as I did and who deserve another chance in life, and I can’t stop.”

Kardashian West says she will continue that work as well, and has already brought several other cases to the attention of the White House,  according to NBC News.

“People have been asking me, ‘Are you getting into politics?’ Like, no. I’m still doing me, but I enjoy this,” she said. “This has fulfilled my heart and so since I feel so fulfilled, why would I stop that?”

Johnson said she will show her gratitude to Kardashian through her work.

“‘Thank you’ is not big enough,”Johnson said. “I think I have to walk it out. I have to walk my ‘thank you’ out. I have to live it out for her, for my family, for the supporters.”

Watch Johnson and Kardashian West’s interview on Today.com or in the video below.


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Reality TV star Kim Kardashian West  meets with Trump over prison reform

Reality TV star Kim Kardashian West met with President Donald Trump Wednesday at the White House for a discussion on sentencing guidelines and prison reform, according to social media posts from both Trump and Kardashian West.

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“Great meeting with @KimKardashian today, talked about prison reform and sentencing,” Trump said in a tweet with a picture of the two in the Oval Office.

Kardashian West responded, also on Twitter, thanking Trump for the meeting. 

“It is our hope that the president will grant clemency to Ms. Alice Marie Johnson who is serving a life sentence for a first-time, non-violent drug offense,” she said.

“We are optimistic about Ms. Johnson’s future and hopeful that she – and so many like her – will get a second chance at life,” Kardashian West said in a second tweet on the issue.

Kardashian West has been campaigning for the release of Johnson, a 63-year-old grandmother, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1997 after her conviction on charges related to a cocaine trafficking operation in Memphis, Tennessee, according to news reports.

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Johnson has already spent more than two decades behind bars.

 

 

Trump commutes Alice Johnson's sentence after meeting with Kim Kardashian West

President Donald Trump on Wednesday commuted the life sentence of a woman who was convicted of nonviolent drug offenses after celebrity socialite Kim Kardashian West pleaded her case last week, according to multiple reports.

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Alice Johnson, 63, has been jailed for more than two decades, according to The Associated Press. She was not eligible for parole.

>> Reality TV star Kim Kardashian West meets with Trump over prison reform

“BEST NEWS EVER!!!!” Kardashian West wrote in a Twitter post after Axios first reported the pardon.

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.

>> On Fox13Memphis.com: Kim Kardashian visits White House to discuss prison reform, case of Memphis woman

Her case caught the attention of Kardashian West, who advocated for Johnson’s release in conversations with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Johnson’s family said in a Change.org petition calling for clemency for the grandmother.

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The president has issued several pardons since his January 2017 inauguration. Last week he pardoned conservative filmmaker and author Dinesh D’Souza, who pleaded guilty in 2014 to violating campaign finance laws.

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The president has also issued pardons for former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, Vice President Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff Scooter Libby and boxer Jack Johnson, among others.

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The president told reporters last week that he is considering pardoning television personality Martha Stewart, who pleaded guilty in 2004 to charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and making false statements to investigators in connection to an insider trading investigation.

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He said he is also thinking about commuting the sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was convicted in 2011 of misusing his power.

Unidentified sources told CNN on Wednesday that Trump has prepared the paperwork to pardon at least 30 people. It was not immediately clear when the expected pardons would be announced.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

Alice Marie Johnson reunited with family after sentence commuted by Trump

It has been less than 24 hours since Alice Marie Johnson arrived home in Memphis after spending the last 21 years in prison. 

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She was surrounded by friends and family upon arrival, greetings that were long overdue. 

“When I walked in the door there were so many family members there,” Johnson said. “The first thing I did was a round of hugging, pictures being taken. Then I started smelling the food that had been prepared. So, there was so much food I ate.” 

Johnson said so much has changed in the last two-plus decades. 

“That’s the big difference for me, seeing people walk around with phones, they’re texting,” she said. “I don’t know what else they’re doing it’s called face something. They’re Facetiming.”

President Donald Trump granted her clemency after a plea from reality TV star Kim Kardashian West. 

Johnson was convicted of cocaine trafficking in the 1990s and sentenced to life in federal prison. 

Now free, Johnson said she thankful for a second chance at life. 

“I’ll never take for granted that I can open my door and go outside when I want to,” Johnson said. “Or open the refrigerator up or shower. I’ll never take for granted telling someone that I love them in my family.”

Johnson’s family said they are very thankful, adding that they are very anxious to spend time with her. 

She said she already has a job secured and plans to be a voice for others serving long sentences for nonviolent crimes. 

Johnson also said she is meeting with Kardashian West soon. 

'I feel like my life is starting over,' Alice Johnson says after Trump commutes life sentence

Alice Johnson, the 63-year-old woman released from prison Wednesday after President Donald Trump commuted her life sentence, said that she feels like her life is starting over after she spent more than two decades jailed for nonviolent drug offenses.

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“I’m just so thankful,” Johnson told reporters gathered Wednesday outside the Federal Correctional Institution Aliceville in Alabama. “This is a miracle day.”

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Johnson was reunited with her family 22 years after she was convicted of charges connected to a Memphis-based cocaine trafficking operation.

In an appearance Thursday morning on the “Today” show, Johnson said her heart leaped when she saw her family gathered outside the prison.

“We are going to appreciate every single moment we have,” she said. “Sometimes we take family and life for granted. I’ll never do that again.”

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She added that she hopes to use her newfound freedom to help people still in the prison system.

“I can’t just walk away and forget about those who have been left behind,” she said. “I want to take this chance to try to magnify what has happened with me, so that people will remember there are people just like me who are first-time nonviolent offenders who pose no safety risk to their communities.”

She told CNN on Thursday that even though it had only been one day since her release, she already had a job lined up.

“My plan is to start work,” she said. “And my plan is also to work hard on helping to change some of these laws. Something has to happen, and I believe what has already begun is a good first step with prison reform.”

Trump commuted Johnson’s sentence Wednesday, one week after celebrity socialite Kim Kardashian West pleaded her case in a meeting with the president. Johnson thanked both Trump and Kardashian West in several interviews Wednesday and Thursday.

“Only God could have touched Kim K’s heart like that,” Johnson told CNN. "She said she felt a connection when she saw and heard my story."

The president shared well-wishes for Johnson in a tweet Thursday morning.

The president has issued several pardons since his January 2017 inauguration. Last week he pardoned conservative filmmaker and author Dinesh D’Souza, who pleaded guilty in 2014 to violating campaign finance laws.

 

Kim Kardashian, Alice Johnson meet for first time since Johnson was freed from prison

Reality TV star Kim Kardashian arrived in Memphis, Tennessee, Wednesday for a face-to-face meeting with Alice Johnson, the first meeting between the two since Johnson was freed from an Alabama prison last week.

>> Read more trending news 

Kardashian was instrumental in Johnson’s release, meeting with President Donald Trump late last month to plead Johnson’s case just days before Trump commuted her sentence.

Kardashian went to a home in the Southaven neighborhood where she was spotted hugging Johnson as she walked into the residence.

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Johnson, 63, was serving a life sentence after her conviction in 1996 on cocaine conspiracy and possession charges, even though she was a first time offender at the time of her arrest.

Trump commuted Johnson’s sentence last week, and Kardashian got to tell Johnson she was about to be released from prison after two decades behind bars. 

"Ms. Johnson has accepted responsibility for her past behavior and has been a model prisoner over the past two decades," according to a White House statement on Johnson’s release."Despite receiving a life sentence, Alice worked hard to rehabilitate herself in prison, and act as a mentor to her fellow inmates."

>> Related: Trump commutes Alice Johnson's sentence after meeting with Kim Kardashian West

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“I’m just so thankful,” Johnson told reporters who had gathered last Wednesday outside the Federal Correctional Institution Aliceville in Alabama. “This is a miracle day.”

Kardashian said she took an interest in Johnson’s case after seeing her story on social media.

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