If you've been hiding under a rock, you may have somehow missed Kim Kardashian West conquering yet another domain and turning into a criminal justice reform rock star over the past two years. But it would have to have been a pretty big rock.
Criminal justice reform isn't your typical celebrity cause. It's messy, it involves complicated emotions, and the wins come slowly. But Kim is no stranger to going against the grain. When society said be Paris Hilton thin and blonde, she accentuated her curves and celebrated her Armenian heritage. When people mocked her for being famous for nothing, she took their attention and wove it into multiple multi-million-dollar businesses. When her haters labeled her vapid, she quietly began reading the law in her spare time. And when Hollywood said not to touch Donald J. Trump with a 10-foot pole, she publicly marched into his office with the intention of partnering with him to pass criminal justice reforms.
Her association with Trump was heavily criticized by many on the left, and her advocacy even labeled disingenuous by some on the fringe. In a recent New York Times profile on her work, Kardashian West addressed the backlash stating, "People would always warn me, well you can't go into the White House, you can't have any association," she said. "To me, that wasn't what it was about. I thought, my reputation over someone's life? It didn't matter to me about what anyone assumed."
While she may be new to the political scene, she's proved to be savvy and practical in ways that the majority of the sector fails to grasp. In a hyperpartisan world, she refuses to play ball and instead focuses on what really matters — the policies and the people they impact. And she's been wildly successful in accomplishing her goals through that framework.
Her work has directly led to the release of several women from federal prison, most famously Alice Johnson. Johnson was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for a first-time, non-violent, drug-related offense. She received clemency from Trump at Kardashian West's request. Alice has since gone on to become a powerful advocate in her own right, partnering with the conservative criminal justice heavyweight, Right on Crime, as a senior fellow and continuing to push for more reforms. But she wouldn't be the last success story for Kim.
Over the past two years, Kim has used her star power and tenacity to halt the executions of likely innocent inmates like Rodney Reed in Texas, she's pushed for the testing of DNA evidence in the case of California death row inmate Kevin Cooper, and she's brought attention to rampant racial discrimination in death row cases like that of Nathaniel Woods, a black man Alabama recently executed despite the fact that he never killed anyone.
Many in the criminal justice reform sector shy away from addressing violent crimes. Not Kardashian West. She's bold in her advocacy, correctly pointing to the possibilities of redemption, questioning whether lengthy sentences were ever appropriate in some cases, and challenging the notion that those who have done wrong are disposable. She rallies to the side of the vulnerable, shining her spotlight on the injustices that so often permeate the dark halls of the justice system.
As a longtime fan of Kim K, I'm not surprised in the least by her success in her latest endeavor. Rather, her ability to transform into yet another role reveals a sharp and commanding mind that has always been a few steps ahead of her latest critic.
Far too many celebrities lend their names to causes they don't understand, or wade into politics without first doing the work of ensuring they know what they're talking about. There's no shortage of "activists" willing to march in the street and scream in the media. But Kardashian West is a different breed. She took the time to understand the issue, and she isn't interested in grandstanding. She's here to get things done, and she'll work with anyone else who is interested in the same.
As the leader of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty (CCATDP), I think she gets it right where so many others miss the mark. At its core, criminal justice reform is about the belief that all human life has value, and that value is based on the fact that we are each made in the image of God. A smart criminal justice system recognizes and seeks to restore that humanity in those who have lost their way. When those are your core beliefs, it matters less what someone's political affiliation is — CCATDP works with anyone to advance the work of redemption. And like Kardashian West, we have found success in partnering with those across the aisle.
There's an old Andy Warhol quote that says, "Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art." Kim Kardashian West has perfected the sentiment at the heart of that quote. She doesn't care what you say about her, she's going to keep plotting her own course and creating a better world in her wake no matter how you feel about her. We could use so many more people like her, and I'm forever grateful to have her fighting on our side.
Hannah Cox is the National Manager of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty. Hannah was previously Director of Outreach for the Beacon Center of Tennessee, a free-market think tank. Prior to that, she was Director of Development for the Tennessee Firearms Association and a policy advocate for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. To read more of her reports — Click Here Now.
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