Saturday, July 11, 2020

Trump Clemency Grantee Alice Marie Johnson Responds to Stone Commutation

Longtime, tremendously hard-working prisoner advocate Amy Povah of the Cando Clemency Foundation clued me into this story on her Facebook page. Please support her and other groups working for prison reform.

Roger can get Stoned with his Richard Nixon bong while
thousands of nonviolent drug offenders wait for clemency. 
The vile Roger Stone* is getting a pass for perjury and other crimes, in part because he could be at risk for COVID-19 if he goes to prison. Meanwhile, thousands of at-risk, nonviolent prisoners remain behind bars with outrageously long sentences, and Trump is talking about withholding federal education funds if schools decide they'd rather not confine students and teachers in an unsafe space this fall.

I agree with Adam Schiff: "With Trump there are now two systems of justice in America: One for Trump's criminal friends and one for everyone else." (NPR missed the "criminal" when they reported that this morning.) Kamala Harris tweeted, "Trump commutes the prison sentence of Roger Stone while the officers that killed Breonna Taylor are still free. The two systems of justice in this country must end."

Johnson's case was highlighted at the 2019 State of the Union speech.
Trump made a public spectacle in 2019 of granting clemency to Alice Marie Johnson, a black grandmother who had served almost 22 years for a first-time, nonviolent drug crime until she was advocated for by Kim Kardashian. On her reality show, Kim is shown meeting about Johnson with Trump, who only wants to talk about her suck-up husband Kanye West.

Johnson, who appeared in a SuperBowl ad to tout Trump's criminal justice record, responded to Stone's commutation diplomatically in the Washington Post.  Stone “is not one that I have personally advocated for, but that there’s movement on clemency makes me hopeful that there will be more,” Johnson said. “The people I am advocating for have spent years in prison and have proven that they rehabilitated themselves."

They include a number of women and people of color serving long sentences for drug crimes. Two of the women, LaShonda Hall and Lenora Logan, are inmates with whom Johnson served time. Another is one of Johnson’s co-defendants, Curtis McDonald, who is 70 and was quarantined with COVID-19 when they spoke last month. Roughly 13,500 inmates who have sought clemency are in limbo, according to the Justice Department’s website.

Breonna Taylor was a 26-year-old African-American EMT who was shot and killed by Louisville police executing a no-knock drug warrant on March 13. No drugs were found, and police initially said no one was hurt. Michael Thompson, a 68-year-old diabetic black man, remains in prison in Michigan for selling three pounds of weed in 1994, and black disabled veteran Sean Worsley was just given a 60-month prison sentence in Georgia for medical marijuana.

West gives Trump a MAGA hug. 
West said he was throwing his (MAGA?) hat into the presidential race this week, a move almost surely meant to draw black votes away from Biden. Meanwhile, his sneaky sneaker company Yeazy unforgivably sucked up $2-5 million in "forgivable" PPP loans (which was only revealed after a dozen media outlets sued to have the loan money accounted for). Yeezy reportedly made $1.5 million last year; Kim & Kanye are both billionaires and he plans to build a second luxury home in Montana. He's also planning to grow hemp in the state, with God doing the driving.

Michael Cohen, President Trump's former personal attorney, was taken back into federal custody Thursday after refusing the terms of his home confinement. One of those conditions, according to a copy of the agreement obtained by CBS News, called for "No engagement of any kind with the media, including print, tv, film, books, or any other form of media/news." Cohen has reportedly finished a draft of a book about his life and time working for Trump. Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and attorney Michael Avenatti have also been released to home confinement due to fears of the coronavirus. 

*If you don't know who this turkey is, watch "Get Me Roger Stone" on Netflix. Stone actually tried to get into the cannabis industry and was set to appear at a cannabis event in LA in 2017, but the industry rallied to boycott the show until he was uninvited.

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