Should Celebrities Influence Political Decisions?
As a celebrity, Kim Kardashian has millions of Instagram followers and an obvious presence in the social sphere. However, her platform recently allowed her to change one woman's life forever.
Alice Marie Johnson is a 63-year-old great grandmother who has been in jail for 22 years. After a non-violent drug offense, she received a life sentence without parole. This incident was the first time she had ever been arrested and charged with a crime. This sentence seems heavy for the nature of her crime; however, no one was able to overturn it...until now.
Kim Kardashian heard Alice's story and believed she was being excessively punished for a first-time, non-violent offense. For over a year, Kardashian has been working closely with Jared Kushner (the President's advisor) and President Trump to negotiate Alice's commutation. While staying in touch and growing closer to Alice during this process, Kardashian was vocal about her position and support on social media sites. She ended up being one of the driving forces behind Alice's pardoning.
On Wednesday, June 6th, President Trump officially pardoned Alice Johnson and allowed for her release. A statement detailed their reasoning for the pardon: "(Alice) has accepted responsibility for her past behavior" and has "acted as a model prisoner." The statement continued with "while this administration will always be very tough on crime, it believes that those that have paid their debt to society and worked hard to better themselves while in prison deserve a second chance."
Kim shared the moment she learned of Alice's pardoning with a tweet saying "BEST NEWS EVER!!!!" while sharing a link from mic.com that detailed her commutation. Kim also stated her interest in continuing to support those who have been imprisoned for excessive sentences or even wrongfully convicted. Kim received support from her sister, Khloe, as well as others on social media sites.
Personally, Alice's sentence seemed extremely harsh for a first-time, non-violence offense. Life without parole is a severe price to pay for her particular crime. Kardashian's role in her pardoning is admirable; her influence seems to have made the difference in overturning Alice's sentence. However, all citizens' voices and opinions should be recognized, not only those with high social rank. The organizations that dedicate their time, energy, and money to similar causes may not see the same level of success.
Thus, this debate is two-fold: Do you think that Alice Johnson should have been pardoned from her life sentence? Additionally, should celebrities have the ability to influence political leaders in their decisions related to crime, policy, etc. - Should this platform be praised, or does it display the hierarchy of influence in today's society?