Trump Grants Clemency to Alice Johnson Thanks to Work From Lawyer Brittany K. Barnett and Advocate Kim Kardashian West

Following a visit to the White House from Kim Kardashian West last week, President Donald Trump today commuted the sentence of Alice Johnson—a great-grandmother serving life without parole for a first-time, nonviolent drug offense. Johnson’s story numbers among the many of the people that attorney Brittany K. Barnett has represented.

While working to get her law degree at Southern Methodist University, Barnett took on the case of Sharanda Jones, another woman who was sentenced to life without parole for a first-time, nonviolent offense. Barnett was also ultimately successful in securing clemency for her.

People like Alice Johnson and Sharanda Jones are hardly alone.

Right now,  about 2,000 Americans are serving life without parole sentences for federal, non-violent drug offences. And Barnett plans to do something about it. She’s a practitioner-in-residence with SMU’s Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center as well as a co-founder of the Buried Alive Project, which raises public awareness about and eliminates unreasonable life sentences.

Since October the Buried Alive Project has worked with more than 50 SMU law students as well as creative writing and statistics graduate students who have volunteered more than 750 hours to the project. Students not only work on these individuals’ cases, but they tell their stories to shine a light on the human impact of current approaches to sentencing in our criminal justice system and the need for reform. And today their work made a real world impact.

12-04-2018 09:12am

Charles Koch Foundation Statement on University of Wisconsin Free Speech Developments

University of Wisconsin-La Crosse chancellor Joe Gow is reportedly fielding criticism and facing a financial audit for inviting an adult film start to speak on campus during the school’s free speech week this semester.

Read more

11-28-2018 09:11am

The Atlantic Launches New Project On Free Speech

To meaningfully address manifold challenges of divisiveness—on campus, online, and in other aspects of society—national magazine The Atlantic announced today a new, year-long, reporting initiative focused on drivers of polarization and how to address it

Read more

11-12-2018 01:11pm

Freedom Project Offers Wellesley Students Chance To Discuss Serious Ideas

Wellesley College's Freedom Project has expanded opportunities for members of the campus community to engage on topics ranging from free speech with Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker to Islamic tradition with Turkish journalist and scholar Mustafa Akyol.

Read more

Sign up for updates