Kim Kardashian has said that she became involved in the effort to free Alice Marie Johnson, a great-grandmother who is serving a life sentence without parole for a nonviolent drug offense, after realizing that amassing material possessions no longer satisfied her.
Speaking to the news site Mic, Kardashian said, “Where I’m at in my life right now, just like, to go and spend my money buying material things just doesn’t satisfy me the way that it used to. If I could put the money for a shopping spree, which sounds ridiculous, to save someone’s life, and do that once a year, then that would make my heart fuller.”
As The Daily Beast has previously reported, Kardashian has been lobbying for Johnson, who was sentenced to life in prison without parole in 1997 on money-laundering and drug-conspiracy charges, for more than a year now. Johnson was denied clemency in a previous appeal to President Obama.
Campaigners for Johnson have noted that at trial, prosecutors called 10 of her co-conspirators to testify against her in exchange for reduced or, in some cases, dropped charges. The co-defendants who testified against her were given sentences ranging from probation without jail time to 10 years, while Johnson was sentenced to life in prison without parole, plus 25 years.
Johnson, who admits she acted as a go-between relaying coded messages by telephone—but says that she never personally made drug deals or sold drugs—was the subject of a video interview with Mic which caught Kardashian’s eye.
“There is a reason I was looking at my Twitter at that moment,” Kardashian says in the new interview, “It’s not like I’m on my phone all day long, I was meant to come across it.”
Kardashian confirmed rumors that she had spoken to Jared Kushner about Johnson’s case, saying, “I’ve been in communication with the White House and trying to bring her case to the president’s desk and figure out how we can get her out. Jared Kushner, who I have spoken to, has been working on criminal justice reform and I know they are internally talking about it... That’s such a huge step from where we started with that not even being on their radar.”
Kardashian added: “I’m just focused on criminal justice reform and helping one person at a time. And so far, the White House has been really receptive to my calls, and I’m grateful for that. And I’m not going to stop that because people personally don’t like Trump.”
Johnson’s fate was included in “A Living Death,” a report of more than 110 case studies of prisoners serving life without parole for nonviolent offenses by the American Civil Liberties Union.
“The punishments these people received are grotesquely out of proportion to the crimes they committed,” said author Jennifer Turner, ACLU human-rights researcher. Possession of a crack pipe, acting as a middleman in the sale of $10 of marijuana, possession of a bottle cap containing a trace amount of heroin too small to weigh, selling of a single crack rock, and shoplifting a $159 jacket were among the crimes featured in the report that resulted in sentences of life without parole.