- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 6, 2018

President Trump on Wednesday commuted the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, a great-grandmother serving life in prison for a nonviolent drug crime, the White House announced Wednesday.

Reality TV star Kim Kardashian West lobbied for the pardon of Ms. Johnson, 63, when she visited Mr. Trump in the Oval Office last week.

Ms. Johnson, who has spent two decades behind bars, was released Wednesday evening from a federal prison in Alabama.

Ms. Kardashian West touted the news in a tweet: “BEST NEWS EVER!!!”

In another tweet, she said, “So grateful to @realDonaldTrump, Jared Kushner & to everyone who has showed compassion & contributed countless hours to this important moment for Ms. Alice Marie Johnson. Her commutation is inspirational & gives hope to so many others who are also deserving of a second chance.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stressed that Ms. Johnson had already served almost 22 years for a first-time criminal office.

Ms. Johnson has accepted responsibility for her past behavior and has been a model prisoner over the past two decades. Despite receiving a life sentence, Alice worked hard to rehabilitate herself in prison, and act as a mentor to her fellow inmates,” she said in a statement announcing the commutation.

She added, “While this Administration will always be very tough on crime, it believes that those who have paid their debt to society and worked hard to better themselves while in prison deserve a second chance.”

In an interview on MSNBC Wednesday, Tretessa Johnson, Ms. Johnson’s daughter, thanked Ms. Kardashian West and Mr. Trump.

“[Kim Kardashian is] an amazing person, and I’ll be grateful for what she’s done. And I thank President Trump also for extending some mercy to my mother and giving her a second chance. This is really saving her life, because she was going to die in prison.”

The president’s use of his power to grant clemency also was applauded by American Civil Liberties Attorney Jennifer Turner, who championed Ms. Johnson’s release.

“I’m grateful to the president for allowing Alice to go home after 21.5 years in prison and to Kim Kardashian for her advocacy on Alice’s behalf,” she said. “I urge the president to do the same for other federal prisoners serving extreme sentences that don’t match the offenses, while reforming our draconian sentencing laws that produce these senseless punishments.”

Brittany Barnett, a member of Ms. Johnson’s legal team, expressed similar sentiments.

“Life in prison without the possibility of parole screams that a person is beyond hope, beyond redemption. And in Alice’s case, it is a punishment that absolutely did not fit the crime,” Ms. Barnett said. “President Trump saved Alice Johnson’s life today. We are extremely grateful and hope the president continues to use his clemency power to save lives.”

Mr. Trump has been wielding his clemency power with gusto.

Last week, he pardoned conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza who pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations.

He also floated the idea of granting reprieves to former Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich, who was convicted of corruption, and lifestyle maven Martha Stewart, who was convinced in 2004 on charges linked to an insider-trading scheme.

Mr. Trump previous reprieves — he has pardoned a total of six people and commuted the sentences of two — fueled suspicion on the left that Mr. Trump is merely warming to pardon allies caught up in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Mr. Trump also pardoned former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio for contempt of court, Kristian Mark Saucier for unauthorized retention of defense information, Lewis “Scooter” Libby for obstruction of justice and perjury and boxing legend Jack Johnson for transporting a white woman across state lines.

The personal touch in issuing pardons, while within his constitutional authority, has raised eyebrows.

Of the six pardons, only Mr. Saucier’s originated as a petition to the Justice Department’s pardons office.

The president is not required to rely on the guidance of the pardons office, but that has been the practice for previous occupants of the Oval Office.

Ivanka Trump, the president’s elder daughter and top adviser, said the commutation was part of a broader effort.

“This Administration believes in second chances for those, like Alice, who have paid their debt to society and we are working w/ Congress on #PrisonReform to benefit millions of America’s most forgotten women and men,” she tweeted.

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