How Kim Kardashian West helped to free a 63-year-old grandmother from prison

President Donald Trump commuted Alice Marie Johnson's sentence Wednesday.

June 6, 2018, 2:54 PM

Kim Kardashian West stopped scrolling on her timeline after seeing a video of Alice Marie Johnson, sharing her harrowing story.

Alice Marie Johnson, a 63-year-old grandmother, was sentenced to a mandatory life sentence plus 25 years after being convicted in a drug trafficking case -- her first offense. Johnson, who had been accused of participating in a drug trafficking and money-laundering operation that distributed cocaine in Memphis, was arrested in 1993 and has been imprisoned since October 1996. Johnson was not eligible for parole.

Johnson said that she never personally sold drugs or even made drug deals, but allowed other people involved in the trafficking ring to use her telephone.

It prompted Kardashian West, 37, to not only tweet, "This is so unfair," last October, but do something more. In fact, she told Mic that she'd "do whatever it takes to get her out."

The reality TV star first tapped her personal lawyer Shawn Chapman Holley.

Holley and Kardashian West's father, the late Robert Kardashian, worked together during "the trial of the century," when O.J. Simpson was tried for the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. Simpson was found not guilty in 1995. Holley, who started her career in the Los Angeles' public defender's office, was hired by Johnnie Cochran to help during the trial.

The defense attorney, whose previous clients include celebrities such as Tupac Shakur, Paris Hilton, and Lindsay Lohan, soon got in touch with lawyers in the jurisdiction of Johnson’s court case, a source told ABC News back in May.

PHOTO: Alice Marie Johnson, 63, who has been in prison for 21 years for a first-time, nonviolent drug offense, is pictured in this undated photo.
Alice Marie Johnson, 63, who has been in prison for 21 years for a first-time, nonviolent drug offense, is pictured in this undated photo.

ABC News sources said in May that Kardashian West had connected with President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner via phone about potentially pardoning and eventually releasing Johnson.

Kushner, who's had first-hand experience with the federal prison system, has been spearheading prison reform for more than a year inside the White House. The senior advisor's father, Charles Kushner, was imprisoned for a year in 2005 for tax evasion and illegal campaign contributions.

Not only has Kushner hosted a series of bipartisan dinners centered on prison reform, but he also organized a bipartisan White House summit on the topic, hoping that Congress will act and pass a bill.

PHOTO: Kim Kardashian West attends the 2017 NBCUniversal Upfront at Radio City Music Hall on May 15, 2017, in New York City.
Kim Kardashian West attends the 2017 NBCUniversal Upfront at Radio City Music Hall on May 15, 2017, in New York City.
Taylor Hill/Getty Images

"Send a bill to my desk. I will sign it," Trump said at the May summit. "It will be strong and it will be good, and it will be what everybody wants."

But Kardashian West didn't stop there.

She then took her advocacy for Johnson to the White House on May 30, arriving just after 4:30 p.m. and meeting with Trump and Kushner to advocate on Johnson's behalf.

Trump wrote a post on Twitter after the meeting.

"Great meeting with @KimKardashian today, talked about prison reform and sentencing," he wrote.

For her part, Kardashian West thanked Trump in a tweet.

"I would like to thank President Trump for his time this afternoon," she wrote. "It is our hope that the president will grant clemency to Ms. Alice Marie Johnson who is serving a life sentence for a first-time, non-violent drug offense. We are optimistic about Ms. Johnson’s future and hopeful that she -- and so many like her -- will get a second chance at life."

A day later, Kardashian West told Mic that she believed Trump "really understood, and I am very hopeful that this will turn out really positively."

The "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" star's hunch was correct. Seven days later, Trump commuted Johnson's sentence, which means that although she'll remain convicted in the eyes of the law, she'll no longer have to serve her sentence.

"BEST NEWS EVER!!!!" Kardashian tweeted.

"So grateful to @realDonaldTrump, Jared Kushner and to everyone who has showed compassion and contributed countless hours to this important moment for Ms. Alice Marie Johnson. Her commutation is inspirational and gives hope to so many others who are also deserving of a second chance," she later added.

"I hope to continue this important work by working together with organizations who have been fighting this fight for much longer than I have and deserve the recognition," she concluded.

Kardashian's lawyer, Holly, also praised the commutation in a statement to ABC News.

"I just got off the most wonderful, emotional and amazing phone call with Alice, Kim and Alice’s lawyers," she said. "Kim was the one to tell Alice that she was being released. It was a moment I will never forget. Once Alice’s family joined the call, the tears never stopped flowing."

Johnson’s daughter, Tretessa, previously told ABC News that she was grateful to Kardashian West and her legal team for taking an interest in her mother's case and working on behalf of Johnson.

“She could have just saw the video or read an article or whatever and just said, ‘Oh, that's a shame’ or whatever and went on with her life, but she didn't, she chose to get involved in a major way,” Tretessa Johnson said.

ABC News' Ali Rogin, Jordyn Phelps and Luchina Fisher contributed to this report.