Alice Marie Johnson walked out of prison on June 6 a free woman. On Feb. 5, she walked into the House Chambers as President Trump’s special State of the Union guest.
The great-grandmother had been in jail for more than 20 years, serving a life sentence for non-violent drug charges. She was released after President Trump commuted her sentence. On Johnson’s behalf, reality television star Kim Kardashian West had met with Trump at the White House a week earlier to discuss her case.
“Good luck to Alice Johnson. Have a wonderful life!” Trump said in a tweet.
After her release, Johnson thanked both Trump and Kardashian West, who she called an “angel” for being her advocate.
Johnson, 63, was arrested in 1993 and convicted of drug conspiracy and money laundering in 1996, according to a Mic profile. She became involved with cocaine dealers after she lost her job, her son was killed, she and her husband divorced and her home was foreclosed on, Mic reported.
Johnson has said she did not sell drugs or make deals, though she did admit to acting as an intermediary for those involved, passing along messages. She was given life in prison without parole.
“I did do something wrong,” Johnson previously told HuffPost. “But this [was] a bad choice in my life that has cost me my life.”
In October 2017, Kardashian West shared a video of Johnson’s story to social media, commenting, “This is so unfair.”
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Kardashian West later enlisted her lawyer, Shawn Holley, to work on getting clemency for Johnson and Cyntoia Brown, who is serving life in prison for a murder she committed when she was 16 and a victim of sex trafficking, supporters have said.
“[Johnson] has been a model prisoner and has the support of the warden, government officials and a host of others in her bid for release,” Holley has said.
The great-grandmother previously sent the reality television star a thank you note, TMZ reported last year.
“Ms. Kardashian you are literally helping to save my life and restore me to my family,” Johnson wrote in the letter. “I was drowning and you have thrown me a life jacket and given me hope that this Life jacket I’m serving may one day be taken off.”
Johnson referenced Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat on a bus as a “defining moment” in history.
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“I believe that history will record that Kim Kardashian had the courage to take a stand against human warehousing and was a key figure in meaningful criminal justice reform becoming a reality,” she added.
A Change.org petition in support of clemency for Johnson had received more than 271,000 signatures before her release. Johnson had sought a pardon from former President Barack Obama but did not receive one.
Kardashian West was the one who got to break the news to Johnson of her release, Holley told The Associated Press.
“Telling her for the first time and hearing her screams while crying together is a moment I will never forget,” Kardashian West said in a tweet.
Unlike a pardon, the commutation will not erase Johnson’s conviction, only end her sentence.
“While this Administration will always be very tough on crime, it believes that those who have paid their debt to society and worked hard to better themselves while in prison deserve a second chance,” press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
The decision to commute Johnson’s sentence was also advocated by Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, the president’s son-in-law and daughter.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.