Just to clarify, it’s not as though the mainstream media is singing hosannahs to the president. They would never go that far. But they are crediting him as a humanitarian and a mensch following his pardon of Alice Johnson, a “first-time nonviolent drug offender,” as CNN puts it. “The Today Show” went a step further, devoting a segment to an interview with “the great-grandmother,” who described her pardon as “a miracle.”
As these sources and others observe, Trump made the decision to commute Johnson’s sentence at the urging of Kim Kardashian during their White House “summit.”
So what else do we know about Alice Johnson? Here’s an encapsulation of her life story as she details it in an op-ed on the CNN website:
Before my incarceration, I had a full life. I married my childhood sweetheart and became the mother to five beautiful children. As the years went on I became a facilitator training people on how to be managers. I was a manager at FedEx for seven years. Life for a time was good.
But after almost two decades together and a tumultuous relationship, my husband and I divorced in 1989. It was during this time that my life began to spiral out of control. I lost my job — and — then my youngest son was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident.
No mother should have to bury her child. This weight was unbelievable, and it was a burden I couldn’t sustain. I made some very poor decisions out of desperation.
So was one of those poor decisions to smoke a little pot? That’s the sort of crime that comes to mind when you hear the phrase first-time nonviolent drug offender. But it had to be something more serious than that because Johnson was serving a life sentence, and they don’t toss you in jail for life for inhaling weed.
As she explains in the next paragraph of her mini-bio:
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.
But as Ben Shapiro notes, Johnson didn’t just “get involved with people selling drugs”:
She was sentenced in 1996 to life in prison for her role as a leader of a multi-million dollar cocaine ring trafficking in 2,000 to 3,000 kilograms in involvement with the deadly Colombian Cali drug cartel. … Cocaine trafficking ends with dead people on both ends of the business — in both the gathering and shipment of cocaine, and in the addiction to it by users.
In a video by Mic that is intended to be a tearjerker, Johnson pleads her case for clemency:
Alice Marie Johnson has been in prison for 21 years for a first-time, nonviolent drug offense. pic.twitter.com/VFe29D2ve8
— Mic (@mic) October 23, 2017
You may have noticed that at one point, the video refers to her as a “playwright.” That’s technically true. While in stir, she wrote plays to pass the time. As NPR reports, she also became an ordained minister. Presumably these details are intended to illustrate her reformation and readiness to re-enter society. A similar argument was made some years ago for Stanley “Tookie” Williams, who as a leader of the street gang the Crips was convicted of four counts of murder. He was sentenced to death but received a stay of execution after celebrities argued he had seen the light. As evidence, they pointed to a children’s book he had written on death row.
In 2005 Williams was executed.
Writing plays and children’s books is all well and good. But such actions don’t make up for the lives the “author” destroyed or terminated.
Trump owed it to the survivors of Alice Johnson’s victims to keep this granny behind bars.