Kim Kardashian Has a History of Helping the Incarcerated. Now, Her Sights Are Set on Brendan Dassey.
Kim Kardashian West is a woman who defies classification. She’s an entrepreneur, an influencer, an advocate, a superstar—she contains multitudes. In 2022, she’ll add Esquire to her list of titles, as she intends to take the California bar exam to become a licensed attorney. Yet even though she isn’t licensed just yet, Kardashian West is already taking on the legal system, particularly when it comes to wrongful imprisonment.
Kardashian West made news when she threw the weight of her advocacy behind Brendan Dassey, one of the men at the center of the case spotlighted in Netflix’s Making a Murderer series. In 2007, Dassey was convicted of murdering photographer Teresa Halbach, for which he’s serving a life sentence in Wisconsin. Dassey later recanted his confession, claiming it was coerced under police pressure, and his attorneys have now filed a petition for clemency to Wisconsin governor Tony Evers. That petition includes a handwritten letter from Dassey, which Kardashian West urged Governor Evers to read.
In a statement to TMZ, a representative for Governor Evers commented that the governor is aware of Kardashian West’s interest in this case, and that Dassey’s bid for clemency will be given the same careful consideration as any other bid.
Kardashian West has a long history of helping the incarcerated—and much of it has unfolded the analog way. Last summer, she played a role in commuting the sentence of Alice Marie Evans, a woman in her 60s serving a life sentence for a first-time drug offense. Kardashian West partnered with Van Jones and Jared Kushner, who has supported sentencing reform for nonviolent offenders, to meet with Donald Trump in the Oval Office, where they pled on Evans’ behalf for clemency. A week later, Trump commuted Evans’ sentence.
Kardashian West said of the events: “I made a decision to go to the White House when everyone was telling me, ‘Don’t go, your career will be over; you can’t step foot in there.’ And I was like, ‘It’s my reputation over someone’s life?’ Weigh that out. People talk shit about me all day long. It will just be another story about me versus someone getting their life back.”
“Kim Kardashian wound up playing this indispensable role,” Jones told Vogue. “I watched Kim Kardashian unleash the most effective, emotionally intelligent intervention that I’ve ever seen in American politics… For people who have fallen for this media caricature of the party girl from ten years ago who hangs out with Paris Hilton? This is the daughter of an accomplished attorney and the mother of three black kids who is using her full power to make a difference on a tough issue and is shockingly good at it.”
You may have seen Kardashian West’s widely-shared Oval Office photo, but what you likely haven’t seen is her crusade to free 17 people from prison in 90 days. She funded the 90 Days of Freedom campaign, which worked to free those serving life sentences for federal drug offenses. Kardashian West has also worked with #cut50, a bipartisan advocacy group focused on criminal justice reform founded by Jones and attorney Jessica Jackson. With #cut50, Kardashian West has visited prisons, petitioned governors, and attended White House meetings. Meanwhile, she’s studying eighteen hours a week for the bar exam.
What does this all mean for Dassey? Governor Evers claims to be unmoved by Kardashian West’s star power, yet he seems open to restorative justice. This week, he pardoned four convicted felons—the first time a Wisconsin governor has granted a pardon in almost a decade. Though the pardons were granted to felons serving time for more minor offenses than murder, it’s heartening to see that Governor Evers is willing to revise the record. If Governor Evers remains unmoved by Dassey’s case, we’re guessing Kardashian West will turn up the heat—and enlist her 62 million Twitter followers to do the same. This also comes not long after another inmate has allegedly confessed to the murder of Teresa Halbach.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.com. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.