"I’m so happy to announce today that we have a ride-share partnership where formerly incarcerated people will be gifted gift cards so that they can get rides to and from job interviews, to and from jobs, family members, and that is so important — so needed," Kardashian West said.
The social media superstar announced in a video posted to Twitter earlier on Thursday that she would be visiting the White House again to speak at the Second Chance Hiring and Re-entry Event. The event's goal was to promote the hiring of prisoners released under the First Step Act, a criminal justice reform bill U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law in December 2018. Kardashian West first visited the White House a year ago to advocate for the release of Alice Marie Johnson, a 63-year-old woman who was sentenced to life in prison for a first-time drug offense.
At the event, Kardashian West sat next to first daughter and White House advisor Ivanka Trump, who has been involved in advocacy for the First Step Act, and they later shared a moment on Twitter. Ivanka praised Kardashian West's "passionate advocacy" on criminal justice reform, and Kardashian West tweeted back thanking her "for helping me to start this amazing journey of fighting for people who truly deserve a second chance!" In September 2018, Kardashian West visited the White House again to discuss sentencing reform and a clemency case with several Trump administration officials, including Ivanka and Jared Kushner.
Jessica Jackson, a human rights attorney whose work has helped usher in the First Step Act and who has been helping Kardashian West with her legal career, previously told Refinery29 that she was at first a little skeptical about Ivanka's involvement with this issue. "At first, I had my doubts. What I knew about Ivanka and Jared is everything you read in the news," said Jackson, who is a Democrat. "I live in the Bay Area — it’s the heart of the Resistance. I’ve definitely seen a different side of them up close and personal."
Before making her announcement about the ride-share program, Kardashian West spoke about her visits with Johnson and other prisoners, which inspired her to provide support for formerly incarcerated people. "I’m happy to help and [support] where I can," she said. "Seeing the lack of support that really existed, whether it’s housing, or the amount of letters that I get with people just needing transportation to job interviews, to jobs." The reality-TV star also shouted out attorneys Jackson and Erin Haney of #Cut50, a national initiative to reduce the prison population, whom she’s been assisting since she began pursuing law.
#Cut50 played an instrumental role in the passage of the First Step Act, a rare bipartisan effort that has already significantly reduced the sentences of over 1,000 federal inmates, 91% of whom are Black. "Late last year, we fought tirelessly to pass this law, leading a bipartisan coalition of grassroots advocates, formerly incarcerated leaders, and Members of Congress," Jackson and Haney said in a statement provided to Refinery29. "Let’s keep this momentum going by making sure those who are coming out of federal prison are given support and empathy as they take the next step in their lives."
"Everyone wants the community to be safe," Kardashian West said at the event. "And the more opportunity...[formerly incarcerated people] have, and the support that we help give them, the safer everyone will be. And the recidivism rate will continue to just get lower."
According to a 2018 report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, five out of six U.S. state prisoners were arrested at least once within nine years of their release.