We had some Page One fun with President Trump’s parley with reality star Kim Kardashian, but we’ll admit she had fair points to make.
Kardashian was lobbying for criminal-justice reform and, in particular, clemency for great-grandmother Alice Marie Johnson, who at 63 has done 21 years of a life sentence for drug conspiracy and money-laundering.
True, Johnson went down the wrong path when — after a divorce, the loss of her job and house and the death of her youngest son — she hooked up with a drug ring. “I made one of the worst decisions of my life to make some quick money,” she admits.
She says she just passed along messages, and adds that her offenses were non-violent — though her case involved Colombian drug dealers “trading tons of cocaine for millions of dollars in cash,” The Tennessean reported back then.
We won’t minimize the lives lost and ruined thanks to such trafficking. Yet her life sentence with no possibility of parole still seems overly harsh. Her conviction was her first, and she has a good prison record. She has already lost a big chunk of her life behind bars; she seems deserving of a second chance.
Others surely do, too. Mandatory sentences, often with no chance of parole, became popular at the height of America’s crime wave. Yet numerous nonviolent inmates with good records may be able to lead perfectly constructive lives if freed.
In May, the House passed the First Step Act, which aims to reduce recidivism and cut the prison population (and costs) through rehab and training programs for low-level convicts. The Senate should, too.
And Congress absolutely must revisit the overly tough sentencing laws that have now become outdated and counterproductive. After all, you don’t have to be a reality star to understand today’s troubled criminal-justice realities.
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