Alice Johnson, who had her life sentence for drug charges commuted by President Donald Trump in 2018, spoke on the final night of the Republican National Convention on Aug. 27, 2020.
Good evening, I’m Alice Marie Johnson.
I was once told that the only way I would ever be reunited with my family would be as a corpse, but by the grace of God, and the compassion of President Donald John Trump, I stand up for you tonight and I assure you I’m not a ghost. I am alive. I am well. And most importantly I am free. In 1996 I began serving time in prison, life plus 25 years. I had never been in trouble. I was a first-time nonviolent offender. What I did was wrong. I made decisions I regret. Some say you do the crime you do the time. However that time should be fair and just. We all make mistakes. None of us want to be defined forever based on our worst decision.
While in prison, I became a playwright, a mentor, a certified hospice volunteer, and ordained minister, and receive the Special Olympics Event Coordinator of the Year award for my work with disabled women, because the only thing worse than unjustly imprisoned my body, is trying to imprison my mind. My transformation was described as extraordinary. Truth is, there are thousands of people just like me who deserve and the opportunity to come home. I never stop fighting for my freedom my Christian faith and the prayers of so many kept hope alive.
When President Trump heard about me, about the Injustice of my story, he saw me as a person. He had compassion and he acted. Free in-body thanks to President Trump, but free in mind thanks to the almighty God. I couldn’t believe it. I always remember God knew my name even in my darkest hour, but I never thought a president would.
When I was released on June 6, 2018 ran across that road and hugged my grandchildren for the first time. I’ll never forget that feeling. And then I remembered the promise had I made to the men and women I left behind, that I would never stop fighting for them and I haven’t. I’m using my voice to tell their stories and I pray that my face reminds you of those forgotten faces.
Six months after President Trump granted me a second chance, he signed the First Step Act into law. It was real justice reform and it brought joy, hope and freedom to thousands of well deserving people. I hollered hallelujah, my faith in justice and mercy was rewarded. Imagine getting to hug your loved ones again. And to think this first step meant so much to so many. I can’t wait because we’re just getting started. The nearly 22 years I spent in prison when not wasted. God had a purpose and a plan for my life. I was not delayed or denied. I was destined for such a time as this. I pray that you will not just hear this message, but that you will be inspired by my story, and your compassion would lead you to take action for those who are forgotten. That’s what our President, Donald Trump, did for me. And for that I will be forever grateful. God bless you, God bless President Trump, and God bless America.
Statement from the Press Secretary Regarding the Pardon of Alice Marie Johnson
Today, President Donald J. Trump signed an Executive Grant of Clemency (Full Pardon) for Alice Marie Johnson. In 2018, the President commuted Ms. Johnson’s sentence 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.
Ms. Johnson, a 65-year-old great-grandmother, served nearly 22 years in Federal prison for a first-time, non-violent criminal offense. While incarcerated, she completed numerous training and education courses, volunteered in a hospice, contributed her talents to art and theater programs, and held steadfast to her Christian beliefs. Although sentenced to life with little hope for freedom, Ms. Johnson nonetheless worked to better herself, those around her, and her community.
Since President Trump commuted her sentence, Ms. Johnson has shared her story of redemption and has worked with lawmakers on landmark criminal justice reform efforts. Her selfless commitment to serving others since her release sets an exceptional example for our Nation’s citizens, especially for those seeking to rejoin their communities after prison. For these reasons, Alice Marie Johnson is well-deserving of this pardon.
Remarks by President Trump Granting a Full Pardon to Alice Johnson
2:10 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: So, thank you very much everybody. Alice Johnson has been just incredible. She’s gotten out; she’s recommended people to us. She knows many, many people that have put — been put in prison, and — whether they should have been or not. She knows that they were put in for too long.
Alice was given a life sentence.
MS. JOHNSON: Yes.
THE PRESIDENT: And you spent about 22 years?
MS. JOHNSON: Yes.
THE PRESIDENT: And — for something that, today, a lot of people wouldn’t even be going to jail for. And it was — it was horrible. And we found out about it. And we gave a commutation; that means we were able to get Alice out. And she has been just so outstanding, and I’m so proud of you.
And we’re giving Alice a full pardon. I just told her. 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.
That means you have been fully pardoned. That’s the ultimate thing that can happen. That means you can do you whatever you want in life. And just keep doing the great job you’re doing.
Alice had done an incredible job since she’s been out, and — recommending other people. We said, “How many people are they like you?” There’s only one Alice, as far as I’m concerned. But how many people are like you or your circumstance, where they were given this massive sentence? And they’re good people, great people. And she said, “So many. They’re in jail. So many.”
And she’s looking for those people, and she’s recommending those people, and we’ve already done some that you know — that you know are good people. And they’ve done really well since they’ve been out.
So we’re taking Alice from a commutation to a full pardon, and I’m going to sign it right now. And we’re very proud of Alice and the job you’ve done —
MS. JOHNSON: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: — what you represent.
And Pastor Robert Jeffress — unrelated, but he was here. And we thought maybe I’ll sign this, and then maybe you’ll like to say a prayer.
PASTOR JEFFRESS: Yes, sir. I’d love to.
THE PRESIDENT: And maybe you could include the media because they need it probably more than we do. They definitely need it more than Alice. (Laughter.) That I can tell you. Okay, thank you.
(The pardon is signed.)
So, Alice, it’s a full pardon. It’s been signed. You might want to keep that one. And here it is. (Applause.)
PASTOR JEFFRESS: Let’s pray together.
Father, we thank you for the remarkable story of Alice Johnson, a strong believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, whose life was filled with heartache and injustice. And yet, instead of becoming bitter, she chose to trust in you. She cried out to you for years, asking relief from the hurt that she was feeling.
And we thank you that she chose to answer her prayers to you through a great President named Donald Trump — a great leader, who, yes, believes in law and order, he believes in justice, but he also believes in mercy. And thank you for moving in his heart to do this great act today.
And, Father, I pray that today’s full pardon will result in a brand-new life for Alice. Continue to bless her and her family as they go throughout this nation and world, sharing the good news that you, God, offered eternal pardon from sin to all who trust in your son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Again, we thank you for the President. Thank you for the example he set for all of us of what it means to be a forgiving person. And we pray this in the name of the one who came and died and rose again that we might eternal life, Jesus Christ our Savior. It’s in His name that we pray. Amen.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Robert. That was really —
PASTOR JEFFRESS: Thank you, Mr. President, for this example.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
Alice, thank you very much, and congratulations. It’s a real honor.
MS. JOHNSON: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: It’s a real honor.
PASTOR JEFFRESS: Congratulations.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody. Thank you very much.
2:14 P.M. EDT