Eleven months ago, at the urging of reality TV star Kim Kardashian West, President Donald Trump commuted the sentence of Alice Johnson, a great-grandmother who was incarcerated in October 1996 for a first-time nonviolent drug offense after she helped facilitate communications in a drug trafficking case.
Alice was the first inmate Kim helped free. Since then, the world has heard about two others — Jeffrey Stringer in Florida and Cyntoia Brown in Tennessee. But there are actually many, many more, TMZ reports: 17 so far, in fact.
Kim — who earlier this year revealed she's hoping to become a lawyer and has been privately studying to take the California bar exam in 2022 — has quietly been working with a team of legal experts and over the last three months alone has successfully helped free more than a dozen people who were serving life sentences without parole for low-level drug offenses, TMZ reports.
As TMZ explains, "It's all part of the 90 Days of Freedom campaign launched by Kim's lawyer, Brittany K. Barnett, in partnership with lawyer MiAngel Cody of The Decarceration Collective." And they're not done yet, as more cases are in the pipeline.
Kim has been secretly paying for the legal efforts that are putting the goals of the First Step Act — the most significant criminal justice reform legislation in years — to work. Congress and Trump made the act law in 2018.
As the president explained in his State of the Union address earlier this year, "This legislation reformed sentencing laws that have wrongly and disproportionately harmed the African American community. The First Step Act gives nonviolent offenders the chance to reenter society as productive, law-abiding citizens. Now, states across the country are following our lead. America is a nation that believes in redemption."
According to TMZ, some of the other prisoners who've been freed thanks to Kim's efforts include Illinois' Jamelle Carraway, who was 11 years into a life sentence for cocaine possession.
Florida's Eric Balcom was freed after spending 16 years of a life-without-parole sentence on a drug charge.
After spending 25 years — half his life — in prison on drug possession charges, Terrence Byrd is also now free.