OPINION | Barry Richard: Trump Commutes Life Sentence for Grandma
Alice Marie Johnson walked out of prison a free woman Wednesday after serving more than 20 years of a life sentence for a non-violent drug conviction. The great grandmother is 63 years old, and was recently granted clemency by President Donald Trump.
Johnson's troubles began in 1993, when she was arrested and convicted three years later of drug conspiracy and money laundering. The Associated Press says Johnson did not sell drugs or make deals, though "she did admit to acting as an intermediary for those involved, passing along messages."
The AP cites a Mic profile which says Johnson, an African American woman, "became involved with cocaine dealers after she lost her job, her son was killed, she and her husband divorced and her home was foreclosed on."
Johnson, described as a model prisoner, previously told The Huffington Post, "I did do something wrong. But, this was a bad choice in my life that has cost me my life."
The case for clemency was first made in 2016 when a Change.org petition containing 271,000 signatures was presented to then-President Barack Obama.
Obama did nothing.
During a recent meeting with President Trump, Kim Kardashian West convinced him that Johnson's sentence was not just.
The AP says commutation does not erase Johnson's conviction, it only ends her sentence. Trump's decision to grant clemency shows deep compassion and points out a need to review our sentencing guidelines. Mrs. Johnson committed a crime and for that, she was punished. Life in prison for a non-violent drug offense may be a bit over the top.
In granting clemency, Trump tweeted, "Good luck to Alice Johnson. Have a wonderful life."
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.