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Kim Kardashian West visits California Capitol for criminal justice reform

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TV personality Kim Kardashian West is seen entering the grounds of the White House in May.
(Mandel Ngan / AFP/Getty Images)

Reality TV star Kim Kardashian West made an appearance on the California Assembly floor on Monday in support of criminal justice laws to reduce incarceration and tough sentencing, as state lawmakers unveiled a proposal they hope will restore the right to vote for tens of thousands of people on parole.

The constitutional amendment introduced by Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) on Monday would create a 2020 ballot measure asking California voters to allow parolees in the state to return to the polls. Kardashian was invited to the Capitol by Hollywood producer Scott Budnick, founder and director of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, a support network for formerly incarcerated people and one of 10 organizations behind the “Free the Vote” initiative.

Criminal justice activists said Kardashian sought to educate herself on the legislative process and learned about the connections between mental health and recidivism. She spoke with both Democrats and Republicans and expressed support for the parole initiative.

The reality star and social media influencer has emerged as an advocate for rolling back tough sentencing laws and incarceration. Last year she persuaded President Trump to commute the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, a grandmother who served more than 20 years in prison for a first-time, nonviolent cocaine-trafficking charge. Kardashian received praise for helping Johnson and criticism for her association with Trump.

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Kardashian has weighed in on Sacramento legislation in the past. Over the summer, she tweeted support for a bill later signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown that prevents male correctional officers from patting down incarcerated women in searches.

And she isn’t the first celebrity to visit the state Assembly floor to call on state lawmakers to overhaul the criminal justice system. Hip-hop artist Common made the rounds in 2017 and performed a free concert in support of laws to eliminate money bail and ease punishment and court fees for children and teens.

California is one of several states that have or are considering ways to expand voting access to people with felony convictions. The proposal for 2020 would aid nearly 50,000 people who have served time and are living in the community.

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“People on parole are citizens who contribute to our social and economic fabric,” Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Los Angeles) said Monday at a news conference on the Capitol steps. “But they are denied the right to participate in our democracy.”

More stories from Jazmine Ulloa »

jazmine.ulloa@latimes.com

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