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.

06-30-2020 01:56pm

Rivet School: Redesigning the college experience for working adults

In the face of COVID-19 — and with $100,000 in philanthropic support from the Charles Koch Foundation — Rivet announced Pay It Forward, a new program that allows students to enroll and pay no tuition during the course of their studies.

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06-29-2020 03:33pm

Cornell’s Yale-Loehr on Supreme Court’s DACA decision

Stephen Yale-Loehr, a law professor at Cornell and a Charles Koch Foundation (CKF) grantee, commented on the DACA decision in several news outlets, including on National Public Radio (NPR), and in The Associated Press, The New York Times and Chicago Tribune.

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College Pulse survey shows students believe online learning could be improved

The Charles Koch Foundation (CKF) and College Pulse have released the results of a new survey showing that while college students were somewhat underwhelmed with higher education’s rapid transition to online learning, they are optimistic that online learning will improve in the future.

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