Alice Marie Johnson, who served 22 years behind bars for a first-time, nonviolent drug conviction, was released in 2018 after President Donald Trump intervened and commuted her life sentence.
He went even further this week, announcing at the White House on Friday that he had granted clemency and issued a full pardon, as reported by the Daily Caller.
“Hard work and rehabilitation”
The move, which completely restores her criminal record, was confirmed just one day after Johnson addressed the Republican National Convention on its closing night.
She used the opportunity to thank the president not only for her own commutation, but also for his efforts to work on behalf of other inmates through criminal justice reform proposals.
Alice Marie Johnson, the former prisoner whose sentence was commuted by President Trump, praises him for taking action on her case and signing criminal justice reform: “God bless President Trump” https://t.co/xM5Y49x2IL pic.twitter.com/8pGgxmdSf8
— CBS News (@CBSNews) August 28, 2020
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany addressed the pardon in a statement on Friday, noting that Trump determined Johnson deserved the fresh start “in light of her hard work and rehabilitation while in prison, including model behavior for more than two decades and mentorship to her fellow inmates.”
McEnany went on to cite Johnson’s completion of “numerous training and education courses” as well as volunteer work as factors contributing to Trump’s decision.
“We’re going to do it right now”
“Although sentenced to life with little hope for freedom, Ms. Johnson nonetheless worked to better herself, those around her, and her community,” the statement confirmed.
Johnson, who joined Trump in the Oval Office for Friday’s announcement, was apparently unaware that she would be receiving a full pardon.
“I just told her,” the president said. “We didn’t even discuss it. We just — you were out there; I saw you in the audience last night. And I asked the folks if you could bring Alice over, and we’re going to give a full pardon. We’re going to do it right now.”
Pastor Robert Jeffress, an adviser to the president, was also at the White House and was called in to provide a prayer over the ceremony.
This inspiring episode highlights both Johnson’s determination to rise above a seemingly hopeless situation and Trump’s commitment to reforming the broken criminal justice system that led to her life sentence.