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From helping formerly incarcerated people secure new housing to bending the ear of the White House to support individuals seeking clemency, Kim Kardashian West has shown that she is committed to changing lives through her work as a criminal justice reform advocate.
While Kardashian West may have gotten her start as an advocate through social media, her activism has since gone beyond Twitter to directly assist men and women fighting for justice from behind bars.
Along with championing formerly incarcerated people like Momolu Stewart and working to exonerate those such as Rodney Reed, here are seven people whom the media mogul has helped within the criminal justice system:
1. Alice Marie Johnson
Before Kardashian West became personally involved in her case in 2018, Alice Marie Johnson, a 64-year-old great-grandmother, had been serving a life sentence without the possibility parole.
In 1996, Johnson was convicted on charges of conspiracy to possess cocaine, attempted possession of cocaine and money laundering for her role in a drug trafficking scheme. As she explained during a video appearance at Yale Law School, however, Johnson never dealt drugs directly. Instead, she became a “telephone mule” after losing her job and falling on hard times.
The harsh sentence Johnson received for a first-time, non-violent offense enraged many, and when Kardashian West came across the story, she retweeted a video calling the case “so unfair.”
Kardashian West soon lobbied the White House to grant Johnson clemency, and in 2018, she met with both Jared Kushner and President Donald Trump to advocate for her release. Trump officially pardoned Johnson in June 2018, just one week after meeting with Kardashian West, making Johnson a free woman.
Following her release, Johnson can now add "model" to her resume: She most recently made headlines by modeling for Kardashian West’s newly debuted shapewear line, SKIMS.
2. Momolu Stewart
In July 2019, Kardashian visited the District of Columbia Correctional Treatment Facility while shooting footage for “Kim Kardashian West: The Justice Project,” an upcoming Oxygen documentary special that follows her efforts to "secure freedom for Americans who she believes have been wronged by the justice system."
There, she met Momolu Stewart, 39, who was given a life sentence in the 1990s for the murder of an unarmed man. During their meeting, she and Stewart discussed the murder, and Stewart “openly admitted that he had shot and killed another young man and that he has to live with that reality every day,” she wrote in a letter of support to have his sentence reduced. Stewart was a teenager at the time of the crime.
According to Kardashian West, Stewart made every effort to turn his life around since becoming incarcerated, including earning his general education diploma and enrolling in college courses under the Georgetown Prisoner’s Scholars program.
This past October, a judge suspended his sentence, and Stewart took his first steps of freedom after more than two decades behind bars. Stewart said he was honored by Kardashian West's support.
“She has the ability to believe in others when the conventional aspect of things would be to shun ‘em,” Stewart told Oxygen.com.
Following his release, Stewart attended Kayne West's Sunday Service and took to the stage to share his story.
His case is set to be featured in “Kim Kardashian West: The Justice Project.”
3. Jeffrey Stringer
Add Jeffrey Stringer to the list of people whose lives have been changed by Kardashian West. Due to two prior convictions, Stringer was sentenced to life in prison in the late 1990s after being charged with manufacturing and intending to distribute cocaine, NBC News reported.
But Stringer was given a new lease on life thanks to the First Step Act, a program which Kardashian West advocated for and Trump signed into law last year. The law allows inmates the chance to earn an earlier release in exchange for good behavior.
In May, a judge ruled Stringer to be released after serving more than 20 years behind bars, according to NBC News. Kardashian West celebrated the news on Twitter alongside a photo of Stringer’s family.
“We did it again!” she wrote. “Had the best call w/this lovely family & my attorney @msbkb who just won release for their loved one Jeffrey in Miami — he served 22 years of life sentence for low level drug case. He served too much time but it gives me so much joy to fund this life saving work.”
4. Matthew Charles
Kardashian West doesn’t just help those who are currently incarcerated — she’s also used her platform to support those with prior convictions.
After spending more than two decades in prison for charges related to selling drugs and illegally owning a gun, Matthew Charles, 52, was released from prison in December under the First Step Act, NBC News reported.
Charles’ desire to restart his life, however, was squashed when he found that his lease applications were continuously denied due to his criminal records, despite Kardashian West offering to pay his rent in advance, she revealed on Twitter.
Kardashian West put a call out on social media earlier this year for any landlords in the Nashville area who were willing to “give Mr. Charles a 2nd chance,” and it worked.
Later that month, Charles posted a photo of a key to his new home, and thanked Kardashian West for her support, according to NBC News.
“My Friday now shines brighter since I now have housing,” he wrote in the post, according to local newspaper the Tennessean.
5. David Sheppard
In 1992, David Sheppard was convicted of second-degree felony murder for the 1992 shooting death of a pharmacy owner. Although Sheppard was not the shooter, he faced a life sentence.
His case was brought to the attention of Kardashian West partly by Sheppard's friend, George Trudel, who had his life sentence commuted in 2019. After Trudel wrote her a letter about Sheppard, she met with Trudel, advocate Liz Geyer and Lt. Governor John Fetterman to discuss his story.
This past December, the state’s board of pardons approved Sheppard's application for clemency, and Governor Tom Wolf signed off on his commutation. He was released after nearly 30 years in custody, thanking Kardashian West for spotlighting his case.
“She’s been a great blessing to me and my family,” Sheppard, 54, told Oxygen.com.
His case is currently set to be featured in “Kim Kardashian West: The Justice Project.”
6. Kevin Keith
Kevin Keith is another man serving a life sentence whose case captured the attention of Kardashian West.
She took to Twitter in July to reveal that she had a "video visit" with Keith, whom she hopes will be released soon.
“I had the pleasure of meeting Kevin Keith through a video visit & was so impressed w/ the amazing programs he created in prison to help others inside better themselves!” she wrote. “So much evidence has been uncovered proving Kevin’s innocence. I hope justice is served soon & he is released.”
Keith, 55, has been behind bars since 1994, when he was sentenced to death for fatally shooting two adults and one child as well as shooting and injuring three others, according to Cleveland.com. The governor commuted his sentence to life in prison in 2010, less than two weeks before he was set to be executed, amid debate about how his trial was carried out, the outlet reported.
7. Paul Algarin
Kardashian West has not only helped incarcerated people regain their freedom, but she has also supported them in restarting their lives. In this case, the soon-to-be lawyer used her extensive resources to help Paul Algarin remove his facial tattoos following his release.
Algarin’s sister, Azaria Algarin, shared her family’s story on social media in May. Her brother, after serving seven years in prison, was released and wrote to Kardashian West asking for her assistance, according to PEOPLE.
No one expected the reality TV star to respond, but she did, flying all the way to Charlotte, North Carolina, on the heels of the Met gala — with her doctor in tow — to help Algarin begin the process of removing the tattoos from his face.
“Such a special day that I will forever cherish,” Azaria wrote of Kardashian West and Kanye West’s visit with her family.
To hear more about the people being helped by Kardashian West, watch "Kim Kardashian West: The Justice Project" on Sunday, April 5 at 7/6c on Oxygen.
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