Last week, progressives were pleasantly surprised when President Donald Trump pardoned Alice Johnson, a 63-year-old grandmother serving life without parole for a non-violent drug crime.
There are signs that the positive press will spur President Trump to pardon more nonviolent drug offenders serving long sentences.
The clemency push is part of a wider initiative to promote systemic criminal justice reform, a goal that’s forged an unlikely alliance between progressive activist Van Jones and Jared Kushner.
As Vanity Fair reports, there’s one person who appears to be supremely unhappy about the Jones-Kushner criminal reform squad: Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a law and order right-winger who has opposed even widely agreed on reforms like the loosening of anti-pot laws.
“He hate, hate, hates it,” a person close to Sessions said, according to Vanity Fair.
But there’s not much Sessions can do to prevent pardons or wider reform.
Criminal justice advocates tell Raw Story that they’ve submitted the names of people they think should be considered, giving prisoners and their families renewed hope.
Beth Curtis, the sister of 70-year-old John Richard Knock—who is serving two life without parole sentences for his role in a marijuana trafficking conspiracy—tells Raw Story he’s wary but hopeful.
“Shortly before the Obama administration ended we were visiting John,” she says. “Our family conversations are usually about events, friends, shared experiences etc.”
“For a short time I was alone with him and he asked me a question he never asks. He said ‘Beth, what do you think my chances are.’ I answered – ‘I don’t know, but I don’t think you will die in prison.’” When his clemency petition was denied during the Obama administration, they thought his shot at freedom was most likely over.
“I think most of the people I advocate have a renewed hope, but it is difficult to swat away the aura of desperation. Somehow they rise to the occasion and continue to live positively in the moment,” she says.