Trump pardons Knoxville criminal justice reform advocate

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Josh Smith. Photo: 4th Purpose Foundation

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Knoxville entrepreneur and criminal justice reform advocate Josh Smith was granted a full pardon by President Donald Trump on Tuesday.

“Today is a day of redemption that I attribute to God’s grace,” said Smith. “God rescued me in prison, and I have spent every day trying to help others who need transformation.”

Smith has been an advocate for criminal justice reform in Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee and countries in Central America for over 15 years since he was released from prison.

He was convicted in 1998 for his involvement in marijuana and cocaine trafficking and served a 5-year sentence in a Kentucky federal prison. Following his release from prison, Smith started a residential service company that would become a $30 million enterprise which employed over 180 employees, some of which were ex-convicts.

Smith sold his company in 2019. He then used the funds from the sale to launch the 4th Purpose Foundation, a nonprofit which aims to transform the lives of prisoners and their families through training, workforce development, and other re-entry programs.

He was among 73 pardons and 70 commutations issued by President Trump during his final day in office.

Multiple Tennessee statewide officials supported Smith’s request of President Trump, including Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, U.S. Representative Tim Burchett, Tennessee Department of Corrections Commissioner Tony Parker, and Tennessee Bureau of Investigations Director David Rausch.

In 2019, Smith was also named to Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s Criminal Justice Reinvestment Task Force.

“Today is a day of redemption, but my work is not done,” said Smith. “There are a lot of Josh Smiths in prisons across our country, and I am going to help as many as possible find a new purpose.”

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