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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 6/8/18

Ivanka and Kim teaming up on prison reform will only lead to big losing, all around

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It came as a blip on the national cable news broadcasts. Ivanka Trump and Kim Kardashian are teaming up to work on prison reform issues.

According to a recent article in Bazarr, Ivanka was "positively beaming to have such a famous visitor" come to the White House to talk about prison reform with her and her husband, Jared Kushner. The reality show in the nation's prison system, meantime, is the stark truth that the USA has the highest amount of people incarcerated worldwide. In 2013 in the US, there were 698 people incarcerated per 100,000 population. This is the U.S. incarceration rate for adults or people tried as adults.

According to The Daily Mail, Kardashian "visited the couple in Kalorama Heights," and "is thought to have been involved in private discussions with Kushner and Ivanka Trump for several months," the Bazarr article, dated May 31, goes on to say.

It has been all over the news in the past several days about Donald Trump commuting the life sentence of 63-year-old Alice Marie Johnson, who was imprisoned for life after being arrested for a first-time, non-violent drug offense in 1993. Kim Kardashian met with the President to discuss releasing Johnson. Like all happy endings, this meeting and sentence commuting even led to a photo op with an uncomfortable-looking Kim Kardashain standing near a smiling Donald Trump, who was seated behind his desk in the Oval Office.

According to reports, Johnson had a rough period when she was a young woman, lost a rather good job where she was employed for a long time due to her addiction to gambling. Then she got divorced and her youngest son died in a motorcycle accident. Now things like this happen all the time for people who don't get into the drug trade, but that's Johnson's story and it is indeed a sad one. For most of us, we have no problem with her being released. She paid her debt to society and all of us saw a rather nice, happy, well-dressed great-grandmother being interviewed by all the national cable news network.

Johnson told Mic: "I felt like a failure" I went into a complete panic and out of desperation, I made one of the worst decisions of my life to make some quick money. I became involved in a drug conspiracy."

She was told Wednesday, June 6, that her life sentence plus 25 years was being commuted by Trump's quick scribbling of his signature after Kardashian contacted her with a telephone call. According to reports, Kardashian has been involved with trying to get Johnson's sentence pardoned or commuted for a while.

Not every prisoner who is in prison on long-term sentences has a Kim Karadashian to get a "get out of jail free" card from. And although this young woman most likely has only the best of intentions in trying to do an altruistic thing in getting these unfortunate souls, who were victimized by their own life choices, in trying to help folks like Johnson, isn't her way of "reforming" the prison system starting off as a sick joke?

There is something very unfair and evil about it all. Ivanka Trump and Kim Kardashian hardly have the background nor the wherewithal to do a competent, complete, thorough job in getting some sort of prison reform set up in this country and either Donald Trump is either too dumb, too incompetent, or too uncaring to really put a stop to this nonsense. Is it Ivanka's way of easing the Democratic strongarm if the Dems sweep Congress this fall? She knows that prison reform is high on the Democrat's list of comprehensive change, but can't she see that these snooty legislators will laugh any suggestions or changes she gets into place once they take power, if they hold a Congressional majority following November's Midterms? Is it because Ivanka's husband's father was imprisoned and this power couple have much empathy and concern for prisoners who have committed nonviolent crimes and are pulling long stretches of time in our penal system? Is it because as a White House fixture and a favored staff member of her father has taken a lot of heat for not doing anything substantive in her short time as a national power player?

According to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), 2,220,300 adults were incarcerated in US federal and state prisons, and county jails in 2013 -- about 0.91% of adults (1 in 110) in the U.S. resident population. Additionally, 4,751,400 adults in 2013 (1 in 51) were on probation or on parole. In total, 6,899,000 adults were under correctional supervision (probation, parole, jail, or prison) in 2013 -- about 2.8% of adults (1 in 35) in the U.S. resident population. In sheer numbers, these figures are mind boggling and having two young women honchoing their own version of "prison reform" seems doubtful at best, ridiculous and an outrageous farce at worst.

That's quite a dragon to try to slay, to come up with some kind of fair and equitable reform that will be fair and balanced for not only those incarcerated in our prisons, but for all of us who are not in prison, too. Letting loose some of those who are nonviolent could be a big mistake and an entire brigade of people who really know how prisoners will react to the outside world once they are released and what it means for all of us, those of us who are not nonviolent criminal offenders, must be taken into consideration. All it takes for a nonviolent offender to become a violent offender, after all, is a violent crime on a prisoner's rap sheet. And there is also a whole list of other things that must be considered when choosing to release a prisoner over the others confined to his or her cell block who have committed similar crimes.

And isn't pardoning one person sort of a smack in the face of the American Justice System? In Donald Trump's self-declared war against Robert Mueller, the DOJ, the FBI, a sundry list of judges and prosecutors, and, it seems, even the blind maiden holding the scales, is this just another preposterous stunt to snub Trump's nose at our justice system? In his reality show, wise-guy way, I think it is - Donald Trump doesn't give a damn about prisoners who are doing long stays in our country's incarceration facilities. If it doesn't have to do with him, he could hardly care about an issue. But he's gotten a real disdain for the American System of Justice and having his daughter and Kim Kardashian looking like stoolies and laughingstocks fits the bill right now for him to have his sick kicks.

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Samuel Vargo worked as a full-time reporter and editor for more than 20 years at a number of daily newspapers and business journals. He was also an adjunct English professor at colleges and universities in Ohio, West Virginia, Mississippi (more...)

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