Catherine Toney began February in prison and ended the month with a job at Walmart after White House adviser Jared Kushner called the Arkansas-based retailer on her behalf, reports the Washington Examiner.
Toney, 55, is believed to be the first woman freed by the prison reform law called First Step Act, which President Trump signed in December. She was released Feb. 1 after serving 16 years, benefiting from the law’s retroactive crack cocaine sentence reductions.
Toney will join Trump on Monday for an event celebrating the criminal justice reform law. Other recently released inmates were invited to attend.
Toney met Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and an architect of the law, on Feb. 21 when she attended a White House Black History Month event. Kushner asked about Toney’s plans, and she said she wanted to work at the Walmart in Daphne, Al. He volunteered to call Walmart for her.
The next day, she got a call from Walmart’s corporate office, saying that Kushner had called, and that the company wanted to help. “He made sure I got in this Walmart where I asked,” Toney said.
“He was a man of his word and he did what he said he would.” Jessica Jackson of the prison reform group #cut50, said Toney is part of an effort by Kushner to enlist businesses to hire formerly incarcerated people, including by helping reduce re-entry barriers, such as poor internet literacy.
“Catherine is a test case” for the retail giant, said Jackson. Also attending the Monday celebration will April Johnson, 40, who was freed from prison in January under a compassionate release provision to care for her daughter, who is suffering from terminal cancer, and for her daughter’s two sons.