Two of those pleas came from Dawn Jackson, a woman carrying out a 30-year sentence for the murder of a family member she said was abusive, and Alexis Martin, who was given life in prison for killing the man she said sex trafficked her.
Both of their cases are featured in the Oxygen documentary special “Kim Kardashian West: The Justice Project,” and ahead of its premiere, Kardashian West sat down with Oxygen.com to discuss, Jackson, Martin and the future of prison reform.
In her letter to Kardashian West, Jackson chronicled how she had been a lifelong victim of abuse at the hands of six men, including multiple family members.
“As a result of sexual, physical, emotional abuse, I took the life of my step-grandfather in what I believe was a necessary act to defend myself,” Jackson wrote.
On the day the 1999 murder occurred, Jackson, then 27, went to her step-grandfather's house to ask him for money, said Kardashian West. He then “tried to forcefully have sex with me,” wrote Jackson, and she fatally stabbed him.
Jackson was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, to which she ultimately pleaded guilty, reported The New York Times. Her public defender did not disclose the reports of abuse in court, and she was sentenced to three decades in prison, wrote Jackson.
“When I read [Jackson’s] letter for the first time, I cried … She detailed her abuse,” Kardashian West told Oxygen.com. “But then to come find out that she couldn’t be that open during her trial, and she couldn’t reveal any of that. That was the reason why she did what she did — in defense, in snapping, in being abused … You can understand her journey and feel her pain, but how the system failed her and made her out to look was just not fair in my eyes.”
For the past 21 years, Jackson has made immense strides behind bars to better herself, including participating in therapy groups, furthering her education and working with other women.
Kardashian West and her team of attorneys are currently looking into Jackson’s case, telling Oxygen.com that Jackson’s abuse, which allegedly started at the age of 5, “absolutely” should have been presented to the court.
“People are better than the worst choice that they’ve ever made in their life at one moment in their life,” Kardashian West said.
Martin was only 14 years old when she said she was sex trafficked by Angelo Kerney, the man she would later plead guilty to killing.
Kerney was shot to death in 2013 after two of Martin’s friends entered his home with the intention to rob him, Kardashian West told “The Justice Project.” They also shot and injured Kerney’s brother, who was raping Martin at the time of the break-in, according to Kardashian West.
Martin, then 15, was arrested for Kerney’s murder, and she was tried as an adult, reported Cleveland.com. The court ruled there was not enough evidence to prove that the trafficking was related to the shooting, Martin’s attorney, Jennifer M. Kinsley, told “The Justice Project.”
“It makes no sense why they would try these children as adults when they are the ones getting trafficked,” Kardashian West told Oxygen.com while discussing cases from the documentary.
Martin pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 21 years, according to Cleveland.com. While in prison, Martin has earned her GED, become a certified dog trainer and has run a group for survivors of human trafficking.
She is currently seeking clemency, and Kardashian West has offered her support to Martin’s legal team.
“Every time I've brought up a sex trafficking case, there always seems to be some huge hurdle because there’s no law in place that protects these children,” Kardashian West said. “The system will take on the case and try them as adults, and to me, that is so broken … no one is protecting them.”
Although Kardashian West believes there is an “appropriate time” that people who have committed crimes should serve in prison, many of those behind bars deserve the chance to reform themselves.
“Just because something horrific happens in your life doesn’t mean your life is over, when so many people are kind of led to believe that it should be … There are thousands, millions of people … that could use help instead of just being locked away and the key thrown away,” she said.
“Kim Kardashian West: The Justice Project” is streaming now on Oxygen.
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