Donald Trump has pardoned Alice Johnson, a 63-year-old great grandmother serving a life sentence in prison after Kim Kardashian West advocated for her clemency during a White House meeting last week.
White House announced Thursday morning (AEST) that: “Ms Johnson has accepted responsibility for her past behaviour and has been a model prisoner over the past two decades.”
“While this Administration will always be very tough on crime, it believes that those who have paid their debt to society and worked hard to better themselves,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
The commuted life sentence comes after Ms Kardashian West met with the President to lobby for the release of Johnson’s, who was convicted for taking part in a cocaine distribution ring in 1996.
BEST NEWS EVER!!!! 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼 https://t.co/JUbpbE1Bk0
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) June 6, 2018
Ms Kardashian West celebrated the good news in a series of tweets, writing “BEST NEWS EVER!” alongside three praying hand emojis.
“So grateful to @realDonaldTrump, Jared Kushner & to everyone who has showed compassion & contributed countless hours to this important moment for Ms Alice Marie Johnson. Her commutation is inspirational & gives hope to so many others who are also deserving of a second chance,” she said.
Ms Kardashian West said she spoke to Johnson on the phone Wednesday, saying it “will forever be one of my best memories”.
“Telling her for the first time and hearing her screams while crying together is a moment I will never forget,” she wrote.
“I hope to continue this important work by working together with organisations who have been fighting this fight for much longer than I have and deserve the recognition.”
A White House official familiar with the clemency process told US media Mr Trump also continues to examine the cases of people who he believes have been victims of the criminal justice system.
Mr Trump last week pardoned conservative commentator and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, convicted of making illegal campaign contributions, and has recently granted pardons to the late heavyweight boxer Jack Johnson, controversial former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and Lewis “Scooter” Libby, a former top aide to then-vice president Dick Cheney.
The President is still considering pardoning lifestyle maven Martha Stewart, who was convicted in an insider trading case, and commuting the sentence of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, currently serving a 14-year prison sentence on felony corruption charges, along with several others, the White House official told Reuters.
Stewart and Blagojevich both have ties to Mr Trump’s former Apprentice TV shows, but the White House has denied that Mr Trump is only considering pardons for well-known figures and that he is examining several other cases that are less notorious.
“He’s looking at all those seriously,” Hogan Gidley, a White House spokesman, told reporters last week. “He takes them seriously because they impact people’s lives.”