Reality-TV star Kim Kardashian West has long been a voice for the wrongfully arrested.
After meeting with President Donald Trump to lobby for the release of 63-year-old Alice Marie Johnson, she didn’t stop. Seeing that her effort had been successful, she went on to join other criminal-justice-reform advocates to lobby for a better, more effective system of clemency. Now, she’s taking yet another step to becoming a better advocate herself as she begins a four-year apprenticeship with a law firm.
Hoping she can become a lawyer by 2022, Kardashian West said that being in the White House and in the presence of judges and other officials prompted her to make this decision.
“I'm sitting in the Roosevelt Room with, like, a judge who had sentenced criminals and a lot of really powerful people and I just sat there, like, Oh — I need to know more," she told reporters.
But at the root of this new effort is something even closer to the celebrity’s heart: the urge to do more.
"It's never one person who gets things done; it's always a collective of people, and I've always known my role, but I just felt like I wanted to be able to fight for people who have paid their dues to society," she explained.
"I just felt like the system could be so different, and I wanted to fight to fix it, and if I knew more, I could do more."
In order to reach her goal, the star will shadow two mentor lawyers from a San Francisco law firm and put in 18 hours of supervised study per week. By the end of her apprenticeship, however, her work will have only begun, as she will finally be able to put the legal knowledge she’s obtaining to good use. Considering her fame is also a factor, we could expect her to use her position to open many more doors — not only at the White House.
In recent decades, many states began to look at criminal-justice reform to fix their own systems. With overcrowded prisons burning through taxpayer cash, many state lawmakers sought to pass reforms to help keep nonviolent prisoners from being thrown in jail for life. Unfortunately, not of all of these reforms went far enough, as drug-related offenses remain on the books.
Still, advocates for criminal-justice reforms such as Kardashian West and others who have been fighting against bureaucrats for years, such as Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Faith & Freedom Coalition, Right on Crime, and FreedomWorks, see hope for the future.
After Trump signed the First Step Act into law on December 21, 2018, activists knew that the historic law was just the beginning of their journey. After all, reforming a small number of sentencing laws is not the end goal, but it has already produced many great results. Having Kardashian West at their side, not just in the position of a celebrity who wants to help but also as someone who’s aware of the legal troubles many of these activists face, could boost their efforts. States that have been lagging on criminal-justice reform could finally join the movement, thanks in part to the star's involvement.
Using Fame for Good
Kardashian West is no stranger to controversy. So one could assume she wasn’t bothered by all the online users mocking her decision to pursue a new career. Still, the response, both positive and negative, she received after the announcement says a lot — especially if you’re looking at this as part of the movement to bring an end to unfair sentencing in the American justice system.
Whether ultimately Kardashian West gets the support she should doesn’t matter. In the end, the fact that people are talking about what she’s doing could potentially put a magnifying glass on the issue.
In no time, people who never even knew about the thousands of cases of nonviolent offenders rotting in prison thanks to unjust laws will be talking about the problem thanks to her. And this might help to ignite a truly nationwide effort to push for even greater reforms, locally or otherwise.
It is high time we put our skepticism aside and thank people like Kardashian West for actually using their fame for good.
You go, girl.