Alice Marie Johnson was federally convicted to a life sentence in 1996 on charges of a nonviolent drug offense and money laundering. After 21 years of being a “model prisoner”, Johnson was granted Clemency from President Trump. Johnson’s story was brought to Trump’s attention by the reality t.v. star- turned prison reform advocate- Kim Kardashian West.
Johnson was incarcerated due to her participation in a drug conspiracy. According to the US District Judge that sentenced her, Julia Gibbons, she was considered the “quintessential entrepreneur” behind the operation. The cocaine ring was said to be a multi-million dollar operation, being tied to Colombian drug dealers that were rooted in Texas and Memphis. 2,000-3,000 kilograms of cocaine were being pushed through the community.
Johnson was tried on a Federal Level. This made it impossible to receive parole because parole does not exist in the Federal system. The only possible way of freedom for Johnson was Clemency, which can only be authorized by the President.
Alice Marie Johnson also had a very personal side to this story, one that resonated with thousands of people. Her involvement with the drug ring was not out of deceit, it was not coming from a corrupt mind, in reality it was a last resort. Johnson was a single mother of five working to support her family. As she explained in a video created by the news network Mic,
“I had been in management for ten years. When I lost my job I had struggled financially. I couldn’t find a job fast enough to take care of my family. I felt like a failure. I went into a complete panic and out of desperation I made one of the worst decisions of my life to make some quick money.”
Alice Marie Johnson is now a great-grandmother. As she also explained in the video she has not been able to be apart of any of their lives, witness any of their births, or even be there for when her parents passed away. She described it as “ache that never goes away”
Alice Marie Johnson has been in prison for 21 years for a first-time, nonviolent drug offense. pic.twitter.com/VFe29D2ve8
— Mic (@mic) October 23, 2017
Although Johnson’s personal life faced terrible repercussions from her life sentence, she was able to turn her pain into strength and inspiration. Johnson did not only tell her story about her life prior to prison, but told her illuminating story of what she accomplished during it. “One of the things I’m most proud of- I write plays.” Her plays helped thousands of women find strength during their incarceration. Johnson explained how rewarding “it is to find talent in so many women that they never knew they had.” She touched the lives of thousands of women as a mentor, developing their talents and strengths, while igniting innovation and cultivating a supportive environment full of arts. “I am very proud to mentor women. And to help them do their time too.” Johnson also volunteered with dying and ill inmates as well as helping with the prison’s Special Olympics.
Kim Kardashian West is one of many who were touched by Johnson’s viral story. Tweeting and sharing her story, Kim became an advocate for Johnson, bringing a lot of attention to the story. She went as far as bringing in her own legal team and personal lawyer to help free the great-grandmother. From then on Kim worked on campaigning for Johnson’s freedom for months.
Kardashian did not only bring a huge awareness to Johnson’s story, she lobbied for Johnson in the White House. In a visit scheduled by Jared Kushner, the Senior Adviser and son in law to Trump, Kardashian met with the President to discuss American prison reform and Johnson’s case. She tweeted regarding her experience in the White House.
So grateful to @realDonaldTrump, Jared Kushner & to everyone who has showed compassion & contributed countless hours to this important moment for Ms. Alice Marie Johnson. Her commutation is inspirational & gives hope to so many others who are also deserving of a second chance.
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) June 6, 2018
Alice Marie Johnson, the great-grandmother, playwright, mentor, and role model, has been granted clemency. Johnson stated that she feels “resurrected from the dead”. She indeed has her life back.
Featured Image via Pixabay