Alice Johnson, who had her sentence commuted by President Donald Trump after serving more than 20 years for a nonviolent drug offense, gave a passionate speech on criminal justice reform at the Republican National Convention Thursday night.
“I was once told that the only way I would ever be reunited with my family would be as a corpse,” Johnson said according to BuzzFeed. “But by the grace of God and the compassion of President Donald John Trump, I stand before you tonight, and I assure you, I’m not a ghost! I am alive, I am well, and most importantly, I am free.”
Johnson was granted clemency by President Trump in June 2018 after he spoke to Kim Kardashian West, who lobbied for Johnson’s release after becoming aware of her case and retweeting a Mic video on it.
This is so unfair… https://t.co/W3lPINbQuy
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) October 26, 2017
Johnson was sentenced to life in prison for her involvement in a drug trafficking ring in Memphis, Tennessee. At the time of her arrest, Johnson had no prior offenses and was dealing with the death of her son.
“Some say, ‘You do the crime. You do the time.’ However, that time should be fair and just,” she said. “We’ve all made mistakes, and none of us want to be defined forever based on our worst decision.”
Johnson served 22 years behind bars before her 2018 release. During her time in prison, Johnson became a playwright, an ordained minister, a certified hospice volunteer, and a mentor to her fellow inmates.
After her release, Johnson became a criminal justice reform advocate, fighting for the release of others like her. Johnson was at the White House when Trump signed the First Step Act into law. The Act is a bipartisan bill expanding early release programs and loosening mandatory minimum sentences, including those for nonviolent drug offenders.
The 65-year-old called the First Step Act real criminal justice reform.
“It was REAL justice reform. And it brought joy, hope, and freedom to thousands of well-deserving people,” Johnson said. “I hollered, ‘Hallelujah!’ My faith in justice and mercy was rewarded.
“The nearly 22 years I spent in prison were not wasted,” she said. “God had a purpose and plan for my life. I was not delayed or denied; I was destined for such a time as this!”