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I write to set the record straight about Alice Marie Johnson, a drug queenpin whose sentence was commuted by President Trump in 2018, and who was pardoned this year by the President after speaking in his favor at the Republican National Convention.
I knew little about Ms. Johnson’s story before today, though I did see her speech at the convention (linked below). In his post today titled Trump’s Real Record on Race, our friend Mister Bitcoin opens with a discussion of Ms. Johnson’s case, I think.* Here is his description:
As president, Trump pardoned Alice
Williams[Johnson], an African-American grandmother and first-time offender convicted on a nonviolent drug offense. Ms. Williams[Johnson] had received life in prison, under Biden’s 1994 crime bill, which disproportionately imprisoned black Americans for nonviolent offenses.
This sounds like a talking point from someone like Van Jones who, perhaps not coincidentally, was cited by Mister Bitcoin as praising the President’s “First Step Act” in the next paragraph of his post. It made me wonder about the actual facts surrounding Ms. Johnson’s case.
From the description above, one would think that poor Ms. Johnson was caught with a dime bag of marijuana in her glove compartment; and who knows, maybe it wasn’t even hers. She’s portrayed as a mild “first-time offender” who committed a “nonviolent drug offense.”
Here is the full text of a February 23, 1997 story in The Tennessean describing the case (link here; emphasis added):
Memphis drug dealer gets life in prison
A 41-year-old Memphis woman was sentenced to life in prison for leading a multimillion-dollar drug ring that dealt in tons of cocaine from 1991-94.
Alice Marie Johnson was “the quintessential entrepreneur,” said U.S. District Judge Julia Gibbons as she pronounced sentence Friday.
“And clearly the impact of 2,000 to 3,000 kilograms of cocaine in this community is very significant.”
Johnson was tried last year on cocaine conspiracy and money laundering charges, along with Curtis McDonald and Jerlean McNeil.
During the trial, evidence showed an operation with Texas-based Colombian drug dealers and their Memphis connections trading tons of cocaine for millions of dollars in cash.
McDonald was sentenced earlier this month to life in prison for his part in the cocaine conspiracy and money-laundering operation. McNeil received a 19-year sentence.
So, Ms. Johnson’s crime was not some minor thing, like simple possession. Rather, she was a queenpin running a cocaine ring responsible for bringing several tons of cocaine into the Memphis area, and laundering the money obtained by these crimes.
How did Ms. Johnson come to have her sentence commuted by President Trump? Well, you see, it’s all about Kanye and his wife. According to this story in USA Today, Kim Kardashian West lobbied the President regarding Ms. Johnson.
Now there are positive aspects to Ms. Johnson’s story. The same USA Today story reports that she was a model prisoner and became an ordained minister. According to Wikipedia (here), the ACLU launched a campaign in support of her release during the Obama administration, but no action was taken at that time. Evidently, they lack the pull of Kanye and Kim.
Here is Ms. Johnson’s speech at the RNC, which was touching:
Returning to Mister Bitcoin’s quote, I also wish to address the end: “under Biden’s 1994 crime bill, which disproportionately imprisoned black Americans for nonviolent offenses.” This sounds like a deceptive BLM talking point, to me. Good, proper criminal laws cause “disproportionate” imprisonment of blacks in this country, for the simple reason that they offend at disproportionate levels. This is well documented in the work of Heather MacDonald and Wilfred Reilly, among others.
As a result, I wasn’t particularly pleased with President Trump’s approach on the issue of black crime. While Ms. Johnson may have been individually worthy, I don’t like the narrative implying, falsely, in my view, that many blacks are wrongfully imprisoned. I don’t like coddling criminals in order to play the race-baiting game pioneered by the Democrats. I didn’t like the First Step Act.
However, for the time being, I’m willing to go along with the President’s strategy. I would prefer an approach based on the truth. But many people don’t seem able to handle the truth about race and crime, or race and other problems, for that matter.
So rather than fighting the deceptive Leftist narrative, President Trump plays it. We live in a systemically racist country that wrongfully imprisons black people for minor offenses, you say? Fine. I’ll take you at your word, says the President. Who passed that crime bill, anyway? Joe Biden? Really? So Sleepy Joe is a racist, just like his running mate said. (Oh, and he seems to be as crooked as Crooked Hillary, too, doesn’t he?)
I’m still not altogether happy with this approach.
BLM delenda est.
* I am not completely sure about my correction to Mr. Bitcoin’s reference, as he refers to the person involved as “Alice Williams,” but I think that I recognize the person from his description as Alice Marie Johnson. I did not find any reference to a convicted and pardoned person named “Alice Williams.” I will make a correction if I am in error.Published in