If you read the news, use social media, or watch television, you might be tired of hearing about Kanye West and his highly publicized encounter with right-wing personalities. You may have even seen him wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat on Twitter.
But what you may not know is that his wife, Kim Kardashian West, has been heavily lobbying the Donald Trump administration to release a great-grandmother from prison. She unjustly received a life imprisonment sentence over a non-violent drug-related offense in the 1990s. Now, only Donald Trump has the power to release her by granting a presidential pardon.
Alice Marie Johnson, the 62-year-old woman in question, was put in jail in 1996 and given a life sentence without the possibility of parole after being convicted for drug-related crimes. She was a first-time, nonviolent drug offender, and like so many others was sentenced to sit and rot in jail.
When President Barack Obama announced that he was pardoning several inmates like her, she thought she had a chance. But Johnson wasn’t on the shortlist. Now, Kardashian West is lobbying Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, to have the president pardon Johnson, a great-grandmother who dreams of spending at least one Mother’s Day with her family.
“I acknowledge that I have done wrong. I made the biggest mistake of my life to make ends meet and got involved with people selling drugs,” Johnson explained. Still, she never maliciously or intentionally hurt anybody. There were no victims seeking restitution for damages from her.
As many libertarians understand, prohibition on drugs does not eliminate the demand for them. When the supply and distribution of narcotics is left to cartels and gangs on the black market, violent crime becomes a necessary mechanism for collecting debts and enforcing distribution turf. And while highly dangerous activity, those from impoverished neighborhoods with low economic opportunity are drawn into this life of crime, disproportionately impacting African American communities.
When government becomes involved, the sale of these drugs is pushed to the black market, creating danger for both the dealer and the user.
Dealers, on the other hand, either die, turn into murderers to put an end to the competition, or go to jail for providing – or in Johnson’s case, facilitating a service.
While lobbying an administration for pardoning one nonviolent offender alone sounds like a dead end, the great deal of noise this case is generating could help to spread the “nullification” message. While Kardashian West, her husband, and perhaps even Johnson may personally think that more government involvement in several areas of our lives is warranted, this case, in particular, is a great example of how laws meant to protect us from ourselves can backfire.
Perhaps now that these individuals are working together to save this one woman, the message of independence from the government might resonate with a greater number of people. All we need is a spark for a fire to spread.
Like anything else in life, partaking in an activity such as being involved with drugs has its consequences. And only the individual is capable of looking at them and deciding for himself if that path is worth taking.