In December of last year, the First Step Act was passed into law. The bill included a wide set of criminal justice reforms aimed at lowering recidivism, reducing mandatory minimums, and releasing at least 31,000 imprisoned people. The bill was famously lobbied for by Kim Kardashian who, in recent years, has become a criminal justice reform advocate. The First Step Act was designed to help people who were disproportionately affected by mass incarceration — black and brown people and people from low-income communities.
The law also helped notorious Wall Street scammer Raj Rajaratnam, according to the New York Daily News. Rajaratnam was imprisoned in 2011 for operating a massive insider trading ring and sentenced to 11 years in prison. But, on July 23, he was released two years earlier than his original sentence. He qualified for early release under the First Step Act, and because he is over 60 years old, he was allowed to go home, rather than a halfway house, according to Bloomberg. Neither Rajaratnam’s lawyers or the state announced his early release — it was only discovered after reporters noticed he was no longer listed as serving time in a correctional facility.
While Kardashian most likely didn’t advocate for the bill to get one of the most notorious Wall Street villains from the recession out of jail, it does feel a bit odd that the bill is helping someone like Rajaratnam, a hedge fund manager who was responsible for illegally profiting $70 million dollars through insider trading at multi-billion dollar companies. At the time of his arrest, Rajaratnam’s net worth was valued at roughly $1.5 billion, which makes him quite unlike most other American prisoners.
According to the Daily News, even Rajaratnam’s prison stay was better than most others. He reportedly had an electronically operated bed, a private bathroom, a television, and a “manservant” named Eddie, who pushed him around in his wheelchair.
After his arrest, Rajaratnam was represented by Washington D.C. lawyer John Dowd. Dowd later went on to defend President Donald Trump during Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s special investigation into election interference.
Kardashian hasn’t commented on the latest release under the First Step Act, and neither has President Donald Trump, who spent Sunday evening attacking black and brown celebrities on Twitter for not giving him enough credit when it came to criminal justice reform, and who took on the First Step Act as his own success.