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Trump commutes sentence of grandmother serving life on drug charges after Kardashian meeting

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Trump commutes sentence of grandmother serving life on drug charges after Kardashian meeting

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Shealah Craighead White House
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President Donald Trump commuted the life sentence of Alice Marie Johnson on Wednesday, just days after reality star Kim Kardashian West lobbied the president in an Oval Office meeting to intervene on behalf of the inmate who was convicted on drug charges.

President Donald Trump meets with Kim Kardashian West, in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington on May 30, 2018.
President Donald Trump meets with Kim Kardashian West, in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington on May 30, 2018. Shealah Craighead

Johnson, who is in her 60's, has been in federal prison more than 21 years after being found guilty in connection to a drug trafficking conspiracy, and she would have died behind bars without the president's clemency. She is one of thousands of Americans serving life sentences for nonviolent offenses, according to a 2013 report by the American Civil Liberties Union, the vast majority of whom are there on drug crimes.

The commutation was confirmed to NBC News by the White House and Johnson's lawyer.

Kardashian West met with Trump last Wednesday to speak about prison reform and possible clemency for Johnson; she was joined by Shawn Holley, an attorney who assembled a legal team for Johnson that's being paid for by the reality television star.

A White House official told NBC News earlier that dozens of pardons have been prepared for the president and that he is considering them. There is no indication that Trump will move ahead with any or all of them.

The official would not disclose the names or offenses of those being considered for clemency.

Johnson has been a "model prisoner," according to an online petition started by her daughter that said she had mentored women, written and produced plays and become an ordained minister while behind bars. The petition said her part of the conspiracy charge was for passing messages back and forth between traffickers.

"I couldn't find a job fast enough to take care of my family. I felt like a failure. I went to a complete panic and out of desperation, I made one of the worst decisions of my life to make some quick money. I became involved in a drug conspiracy," Johnson told Mic.com in a videotaped jailhouse interview last year that first gained Kardashian West's attention.

"Please wake up America and help end this injustice. It's time to stop over-incarcerating your own citizens. Because that is what's going on," Johnson added in the same interview.