Kim Kardashian West Helped Free 17 More People From Prison
By Christianna Silva
Kim Kardashian West has continued her work towards prison reform and has worked with the legal team she helps fund to free 17 people who were imprisoned for non-violent drug offenses over the past three months as part of the 90 Days of Freedom campaign, the nonprofit law firm the Decarceration Collective confirmed to MTV News.
The campaign was spearheaded by Brittany K. Barnett and MiAngel Cody, two lawyers who helped Kardashian West in her work to commute other sentences, like those of Alice Johnson and Jeffrey Stringer. Barnett co-founded the Buried Alive Project; Cody founded The Decarceration Collective. Both groups fight to free inmates who are facing long sentences for low-level drug offences. Three months ago, the duo teamed up to create the 90 Days of Freedom Campaign, which Kardashian West offered to fund.
“Our work is not done,” Angela Wynn, media liaison at the Decarceration Collective, said in a statement to MTV News. “There are so many more we hope to save.”
The Sentencing Project reported that in 2016, 450,345 incarcerated people in the U.S. were serving sentences related to drug offenses – more than 10 times the number of people in the U.S. incarcerated for the same crimes in 1980.
Their collaboration came after President Donald Trump signed the First Step Act, which aims to give inmates with good behavior, particularly those serving time for nonviolent drug offenses, the opportunity to shorten their sentences. Kardashian West met with Trump in September to discuss prison reform, months before he signed the act. The First Step Act helped Barnett and Cody release 17 people who were reportedly the only inmates eligible “for that sort of narrow provision that allowed them to go back into the courts,” Cody told Buzzfeed News.
According to TMZ, people who were freed include Eric Balcom, who served 16 years of a life sentence; and Terrence Byrd, who served 25 years; and Jamelle Carraway, who served 11 years of a life sentence.
The team had hoped to release more people; as a result, the group is launching The Third Strike Project, which aims to help “the hundreds of men and women left behind by the First Step Act’s limited legislative provisions,” Wynn said in a statement.
“We are thrilled that Kim Kardashian continues to lend her voice to this important, life-saving work,” Wynn said. “We encourage everyone to link arms to bring about transformative criminal justice.”
Kardashian West is also lending her voice with a two-hour documentary on Oxygen focusing on the criminal justice system, ELLE.com reported. The film has the working title Kim Kardashian: The Justice Project; per a press release, it will document the star’s “efforts to secure freedom for Americans who she believes have been wronged by the justice system.” The star is also reportedly studying 18 hours a week for the bar exam to become a lawyer.
“It’s kind of crazy because I’m learning it all as I go,” she told People after the news broke in early May. “I spend more time on this than I do anything else. It’s insane but it’s so fun to be around people that are super smart and get it and want the same thing.”
She added that she’s always had an interest in law. Her late father, Robert Kardashian, famously helped defend O.J. Simpson during his 1994 murder trial.
“I told my dad years ago that I was really into criminal justice and he was like, ‘This will stress you out so much, you do not really want to take this on,’” she said. “I think now having gotten so deep in helping Alice [Johnson], I’m really motivated to get to know the law more and fight for people who deserve a second chance like her.”