Kim Kardashian asks Trump to pardon Alice Marie Johnson
Kim Kardashian West has met President Donald Trump to discuss a potential pardon for a 63-year-old great-grandmother who is serving life in prison.
Alice Marie Johnson has been behind bars for more than two decades for a first-time drug offence.
Mr Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner has also been speaking with Mrs Kardashian West about the case for months.
President Trump tweeted that they had a "great meeting".
Great meeting with @KimKardashian today, talked about prison reform and sentencing. pic.twitter.com/uOy4UJ41JF— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2018
Why is Kim Kardashian involved in the case?
Johnson's story first caught the reality television star's eye after she saw a short video about the case posted on social media.
This is so unfair... https://t.co/W3lPINbQuy— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) October 26, 2017
Mrs Kardashian West was moved to ask her longtime personal lawyer, Shawn Holley, to take a look at the case and is paying for a new legal team for Johnson.
The reality television star was also able to join forces with Mr Kushner, a senior adviser to the president who has been pushing for federal prison reform.
Mr Kushner's First Step Act, which allots $50m (£38m) for rehabilitative programmes for inmates, passed in the US House of Representatives last week.
According to Johnson's daughters, the process has sped up considerably since Mrs Kardashian West's involvement.
Wednesday is also Johnson's birthday, which Mrs Kardashian West noted in a tweet this morning.
Happy Birthday Alice Marie Johnson. Today is for you 🙏🏼✨— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) May 30, 2018
On the meeting with Mr Trump, Mrs Kardashian West said she was hopeful Johnson would get a "second chance at life".
I would like to thank President Trump for his time this afternoon. 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.— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) May 31, 2018
We are optimistic about Ms. Johnson’s future and hopeful that she —and so many like her—will get a second chance at life.— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) May 31, 2018
Who is Alice Marie Johnson?
Johnson was sentenced to life in prison without parole in 1996 for a first-time, non-violent drug offence. She was convicted for her role, along with 15 others, in a large cocaine distribution ring in Tennessee.
According to her family and supporters, Johnson has been a model inmate who is active in many programmes, including work in the prison hospice. She fitted all of the criteria for former President Barack Obama's Clemency Project 2014, but was denied just days before the end of his term.
"This is the last time I'll put my family through the heartache of expectations," Johnson told the BBC at the time.
Despite that, Mrs Kardashian West's interest appears to have revitalised the effort.
Amy Povah, the founder of CAN-DO Clemency, has been advocating for Johnson's release since 2014 and says she has helped collect signatures from 70 organisations who support the pardon, as well as a letter of support from the retired warden of Johnson's prison.
All of that material may be submitted to President Trump.
"She's always stood out to me as being exceptional," says Ms Povah. "She's not bitter or angry, she's this ray of sunshine."
What happens next?
The pardon process is entirely up to the president's discretion, and it is unknown at this point whether he plans to announce a decision to coincide with Mrs Kardashian West's visit.
Johnson's daughters remain hopeful that - at least for their family - the long wait may soon be over.
"We are praying for mercy in my mom's case… that this nightmare is finally coming to an end," Tretessa Johnson told the BBC.
What has the reaction been?
Many on social media have been critical of Mrs Kardashian West's unlikely role as a prison reform advocate and say there are thousands of cases that deserve closer examination.
Some have questioned her credentials to speak on the subject, suggesting there are more qualified people who should have met Mr Trump.
I'm curious @KimKardashian, without using Google, what do you know about prison reform?— Travon Free (@Travon) May 30, 2018
But others have pointed to previous examples of celebrities meeting political leaders and accused Mrs Kardashian West's critics of displaying double standards.
I don't really get how Kim Kardashian visiting Trump about prison reform is any different to Bono/Geldof/whoever meeting politicians about their policy interests.— Stephen Kitching (@StephenKitching) May 31, 2018
There have also been accusations of sexism aimed at those who have derided the meeting.
"If this was Leonardo DiCaprio or George Clooney... nobody would bat an eyelid," one Twitter user wrote.
Also, if this was Leonardo Dicaprio or George Clooney going in for a meeting about the environment nobody would bat an eyelid. Snobbery and sexism at its finest.— Grant Tucker (@GrantTucker) May 31, 2018