Nearly one week after celebrity superstar Kim Kardashian met with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House to discuss the case of prisoner Alice Johnson, the first-time nonviolent drug offender was officially granted clemency.
The 63-year-old grandmother has been in an Alabama prison for more than 21 years, and was sentenced to life without the chance of parole. Kardashian’s lawyer, Shawn Holley, confirmed the move by Trump and said that Johnson would be free to leave prison. (In law, a commutation is the substitution of a lesser penalty for the sentence given. The punishment can be lessened in severity or duration, or both. A pardon, on the other hand, is a complete absolving of guilt.)
The White House released an official statement on Wednesday.
Kardashian visited with Trump on May 30 to discuss prison reform overall, but focused specifically on Johnson’s case. Of course, the photo of the pair in the Oval Office quickly went viral on social media. Specifics about the meeting have not been released to the public.
WATCH: U.S. President Donald Trump commuted the sentence of prisoner Alice Johnson one week after he met with Kim Kardashian at the White House.
The reality star claimed she was working to get Johnson pardoned, and said she was “optimistic” after meeting with the president.
WATCH: Kim Kardashian says she’s hopeful about pardon for Alice Marie Johnson
WATCH: U.S. senator says commutation of Alice Johnson ‘shouldn’t take’ Kim Kardashian visiting White House
Kardashian is thrilled at Trump’s decision.
In an email sent to Business Insider from Aliceville Correctional Facility last week, Johnson was ecstatic about the idea of getting out of prison.
“I’m still waiting to exhale!” she wrote. “I’m hanging in here and won’t let go until I walk out of these doors!”
In the early 1990s, she was convicted for facilitating communications in a cocaine trafficking operation in Memphis, Tenn. She was given the life sentence plus 25 years after her co-conspirators testified against her.
Johnson’s case represents a milestone in this presidency’s criminal justice reform efforts, in which Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner has taken the lead. Since he began working with the Trump administration, he’s made it one of his top priorities.
Johnson petitioned three times to former president Barack Obama, but was denied.
Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton each waited over two years before issuing their first presidential pardons, but Trump has already handed out his fifth, while hinting at more in the near future.
Trump’s pardons so far include:
- Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio (contempt of court);
- Navy sailor Kristian Saucier (unauthorized retention of defence information);
- Scooter Libby (obstruction of justice, false statements and two counts of perjury);
- African-American boxer Jack Johnson (violation of the white slave traffic act for crossing a state border with a white woman); and
- conservative pundit Dinesh D’Souza (illegal campaign contributions).
Catina Scales, Johnson’s daughter, said on Wednesday that she was going to pick up her mother at the prison. Johnson is expected to be released as soon as possible.
“I have been literally shaking ever since I heard this news — this is the best present anyone could have gave me in my life,” she said. “Nothing will ever trump this feeling.”
— With files from Katie Scott and Josh K. Elliott