Update June 14, 2018: Alice Johnson is FREE! President Trump commuted her sentence after Kim K visited the White House this week. A perfect use of celebrity status to do good!
In 2004, 16 year old Cyntoia Brown was tried as an adult and convicted for killing the 43-year-old man who raped and sex trafficked her. In order to escape, the young Brown shot her captor then fled the scene with his car, money and guns. She was sentenced to life; Brown, now 29, is not eligible for parole until she serves 51 years in prison. Her case garnered national attention when celebrities like Rihanna and Kim Kardashian began tweeting about it, arguing that her sentencing was unfair considering her trauma.
But then, something pretty awesome happened, Kim Kardashian put her money where her Twitter thumbs were. Tweeting on November 21st, 2017, Kardashian said, “The system has failed. It’s heart breaking to see a young girl sex trafficked then when she has the courage to fight back is jailed for life! We have to do better & do what’s right. I’ve called my attorneys yesterday to see what can be done to fix this.” Kardashian did more than call her attorneys–she helped pay for Brown’s legal fees.
And, on January 9th, 2018, the first steps were taken: Brown’s lawyer filed an appeal challenging her sentence. Her lawyers are asking the Court of Appeals to consider the constitutionality of Cyntoia’s life sentence, as well as asking them to revisit whether or not the then 16-year-old had the sufficient mental capacity to commit murder. Brown has filed other appeals but they have been denied. Perhaps with Hollywood power and money behind her, the outcome will be different this time.
Alice Marie Johnson was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for a non-violent first offense—drug dealing (cocaine). She has been in prison for 20 years. When Kardashian learned about Johnson’s case, she felt for the 62-year-old grandmother and enlisted the help of her legal team. In a letter that Johnson wrote to Kardashian, she said that she thought the media mogul would be remembered kindly in history as someone who “had the courage to take a stand against human warehousing” and as “a key figure in meaningful criminal justice reform becoming reality.” We here at PROOF agree. Though it’s easy to say mean things about Kim K, no one should ignore these acts. A celebrity who goes further than tweeting and talking, who makes a real effort to help women who need it deserves recognition.
Many people count the Kardashian family out because of … well, you know, but that is unfair. We have to give them credit for actions like these.
We bet Kim’s dad, famed lawyer Robert Kardashian, is smiling down on his little girl and her selfless acts. Thank you, Kim. Kudos for what you are doing in the name of justice.