For Immediate Release

Contact: Tracey Wood Mendelsohn

twm@bprsnewyork.com | 917-676-9094

FedFam4Life Applauds Alice Marie Johnson’s Commutation and Release

 Founder Calls for Thorough Case Reviews for All Women in the Federal Prison System

 Announces Launch of National Initiative, #MYSISTERSKEEPER

New York, New York – June 8, 2018 – Tray Johns, a criminal justice reform leader, advocate and co-founder/executive director of FedFam4Life (FF4L), announced today the launch of #mysisterskeeper, a national initiative conceived in the spirit of helping the thousands of women, like Alice M. Johnson, who were imprisoned under draconian laws and sentencing guidelines. Johns stated, “We join in the appreciation of President Trump’s decision to commute Alice Johnson’s unjustly punitive life sentence and celebrate that she is now free to rejoin her family and community. We hope she is the first of many.”

Johns continued, “We are also grateful that Kim Kardashian West was moved to use her extraordinary platform to amplify the message of a national network of formerly incarcerated women and women-led organizations who have been advocating for Ms. Johnson’s release for years. It is important to acknowledge that these women engineered the initiatives that made Ms. Johnson’s poignant video go viral and wind up on Kim Kardashian West’s radar. We at FedFam4Life feel strongly that the glow of this moment should also spotlight the thousands of incarcerated citizens who are also serving life without parole or disproportionately long sentences. It should  open a dialogue to reinstate federal parole. All allies are welcome, celebrities or not.”

#mysisterskeeper is FF4L's primary advocacy initiative, created to provide support for urgent and critical cases and direct court actions brought by so called “jailhouse lawyers” and women whom fighting their cases from inside are eligible for clemency, sentence reduction, compassionate release and other considerations under the federal penal system. Our urgent and critical case response teams include volunteer law students, paralegals and attorneys as well as communications students and professionals to engage the public and media.  Our methodology encompasses the construction of a “social bio” that will provide prosecutors, judges, social workers, advocates and the public with context of a woman’s lived experience to counter reflexive stigmatization and dehumanization women face when they become justice involved.”

One of the first cases #mysisterkeeper will undertake includes the particularly urgent situation of Bernetta Willis, an ideal candidate for clemency or a pardon. She is a low-level offender who received a sentence of 43 years in federal prison, the longest sentence ever given for a financial crime in this case a mere $80,000. The offense of egregious and possibly unconstitutional sentence is compounded by the fact that Ms. Willis has only a fifth-grade education, which her attorney was well aware of when she signed the plea agreement. That same attorney has since been disbarred and the judge in her case was forced to resign amid misconduct allegations. Ms. Willis, who is the mother of five children, has had 2 heart surgeries since her incarceration. Her case should be reviewed by President Trump for commutation or a full pardon and immediate release.

 

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