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Does Alice Johnson Case Signal Criminal Justice Reform

MEMPHIS, Tenn - Many say Kim Kardashian West did good by fighting for Alice Johnson's clemency, but Congressman Steve Cohen thinks how it was done was wrong.


Cohen tweeted, Commutations shouldn't be based on the star power of an endorser, but on the inequity of a sentence.


The U.S. Congressman went on to say he had written to President Obama years ago in support of Johnson's commutation, but what's unclear is if what was good for one will be good for all under under the current criminal justice system.


Local attorney's say don't expect a get out of jail free card from the Trump adminstration.


Attorney Josh Spikler of the organization Just City says politics worked out for Johnson in this case.


"There was no process," said Spikler. "This is not about criminal justice reform. I think this is barely about Ms. Johnson frankly. It's about celebrity and ugly politics. Politics of distraction, politics of ratings."


Spikler says Johnson's commutation is far from reform of criminal justice in this country.


"Ms. Johnson was a first time offender and received a life sentence because of involvement in drug trafficking and that's a ludicrous sentence," said Spikler. It made no sense. There are thousands of people like Ms. Johnson in federal and state prisons across this country who need similar relief."


John Mareck defends clients with cases similar to Johnson's.


He thinks this is the perfect opportunity for this President to move the ball on what Mareck see's as an uneven playing field.


"I think part of the problem we are having with our poorer communities and the lack of trust we are having between the police and the poorer communities is that we have this ridiculous drug war and crimes," said Mareck. "It's created the issue."


"What's unfortunate is that this is not an indication of any strategic approach to correcting the damage the War on Drugs has done to people like Ms. Johnson, her family and community," said Spikler.


A prison-reform bill recently passed has passed the House, but it doesn't appear it has enough votes to pass the Senate.


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