Alice Marie Johnson has been freed from prison. The decision by Donald Trump follows a meeting he had with Kim Kardashian West earlier this week.
The Kardashian sister became aware of the case of the 63 year old grandmother back in October. She tweeted that the life sentence Alice Marie Johnson received was ‘so unfair’. She has been championing her cause since then.
The decision by Trump was to commute Alice Marie Johnson’s sentence rather than to grant her a pardon. Although both mean that the offender does not have to serve out the rest of their sentence, they are not exactly the same. The difference is that a pardon wipes the conviction off the offenders record, whereas clemency does not.
This distinction however does not bother Johnson. She hugely is grateful to be released after serving 21 years, and has publicly thanked both Trump and Kim Karashian for their role in freeing her. Johnson said that she is now “free to live life and free to start over.” She is also making plans on what to do with her new found freedom. She said “I have a lot of catching up to do with my family. I can’t wait to get back on the workforce and get back to my community.”
Alice Marie Johnson’s Sentence…
The judge in the original trial sentenced Johnson to life in prison for a first offence. The charges in this case were money laundering and conspiracy to posses cocaine. The prosecution accused her of being a participant in a drug trafficking ring. Alice Marie Johnson maintains that she had limited involvement in the ring. She also claims that she became involved in the ring out of desperation. There is no dispute that Alice Marie Johnson committed the offences. The sentence, however was extremely excessive for a non-violent drug offence. The sentence also did not include the possibility of parole. Johnson was a model prisoner throughout her stay in the Alabama prison making her a perfect candidate for release.
Whilst the decision by Trump is good news for Johnson and her family, it unfortunately does not point to a trend for the administration. Instead of moving towards leniency, the justice department, headed by Jeff Sessions, continues to advocate for polices and sentencing for drug related offences that would hurt people just like Alice Marie Johnson.