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Kardashian West Visits White House Seeking Freedom For A Grandmother Serving Life

Updated at 7:27 p.m. ET

Kim Kardashian West met with President Trump at the White House Wednesday, as the reality star seeks freedom for a great-grandmother serving a life sentence in federal prison.

Kardashian West has been pushing for the release of Alice Marie Johnson since she heard Johnson tell her story on news website Mic.

Johnson was convicted in 1996 for a first-time drug offense. She has been behind bars for more than two decades.

Trump tweeted a picture of himself with Kardashian Westin the Oval Office. In his tweet, Trump said the two had a great meeting. He said they discussed "prison reform and sentencing."

Kardashian responded in kind with a tweet later that night, "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."

While at the White House, Kardashian West was also scheduled to meet with White House official Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law.

Kushner has spearheaded a White House initiative to help better prepare prisoners for life after incarceration.

On her Instagram account on Wednesday, Kardashian West sent a post wishing Johnson a happy birthday, saying "today was for you."

Johnson's supporters say she has been a model prisoner. During her time as an inmate, Johnson has written plays and become an ordained minister.

"To keep Miss Alice in prison for the rest of her life is morally and economically indefensible," said Brittany Barnett, who is part of the legal team set up by Kardashian West to represent Johnson. "She has more than paid her debt to society."

Prison reform advocates argue that lengthy sentences issued during the height of America's so-called war on drugs for nonviolent charges are cruel and inhumane. They also point out that keeping these individuals incarcerated is costly for taxpayers.

In his last years in office, former President Obama undertook a project to commute the sentences of certain nonviolent drug offenders.

While Obama commuted a record number of sentences, Johnson was denied clemency at that time.

Now Kardashian West and others are hoping Trump will act on Johnson's behalf.

Kardashian West is the latest celebrity to ask Trump to use his clemency power.

Actor Sylvester Stallone successfully lobbied Trump for a posthumous pardon of legendary boxer Jack Johnson.

Kardashian West's husband, Kanye West, is a Trump supporter. The president and West exchanged compliments on Twitter last month.

Trump has granted four pardons and one commutation since becoming president. All of the cases involved prominent figures or received a lot of media attention.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.
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