Prison reform doesn’t seem to be the highest priority for President Trump, but one member of a reality star power couple and one member of his family are doing their best to make it one.
Kim Kardashian plans to meet today at the White House with Jared Kushner to discuss the topic and advocate for the pardon of Alice Marie Johnson, a 64-year-old woman serving a life sentence for nonviolent drug offenses. It’s an issue that both Kardashian, who learned about Johnson watching a video from Mic, and Kushner, whose father served time in a federal prison, have taken up. The Senate is currently debating a prison reform bill that passed the House this month.
Kardashian family forays into politics haven’t always worked out. Caitlyn Jenner, a transgender conservative, wasn’t welcomed by either community with particularly open arms when she came out. Kendall Jenner’s wannabe-woke Pepsi ad last year was pulled off the internet in less than 24 hours, and the family’s Cosmopolitan cover story headlined “America’s First Family” in 2015 received blowback online. Even Kourtney Kardashian’s Capitol Hill visit in April to advocate for cosmetics reform was overshadowed days later by her brother-in-law Kanye West wearing a MAGA hat and claiming slavery was a choice.
But prison reform is an issue that could be a winner. Kushner said as much in a Wall Street Journal op-ed in April.
“This is an issue that could unite Americans across the ideological spectrum,” he wrote. “Sensible and just prison-reform legislation would direct government resources toward reducing crime, enhancing public safety and increasing opportunity.”
Kushner noted in the op-ed that the US has 4% of the world’s population but more than 20% of the world’s prisoners, and attempted to tie his father-in-law’s “forgotten men and women” line to the issue.
Politically, both Kushner and Kardashian could use good news. A January CNN poll found Kushner had a 17% favorable rating, while his wife Ivanka’s was at 41%. And the couple spent the day split screen with violence in Gaza at the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem earlier this month. CNN doesn’t have polling on Kardashian’s approval, but a poll earlier this month on her husband Kanye West found 52% of Americans who heard his comments about politics and slavery thought he made them for publicity.
Should Kushner and Kardashian convince Trump to pardon Johnson and make meaningful progress on prison reform it would not only help incarcerated Americans, but it could also provide Javanka with a much-needed policy win and give Kim K a political narrative reset.