Alice Marie Johnson made her first public appearance Saturday since her life sentence was commuted by President Donald Trump last month.
Johnson spoke at the “Beauty Behind Bars” event at Andy B’s in Bartlett.
She was serving a life sentence for non-violent drug offense when reality star Kim Kardashian West pushed for her release.
“I’m a 63-year-old woman who has spent almost 22 years behind bars,” Johnson told the crowd.
The goal of Beauty Behind Bars to empower people they say are mental imprisoned, struggling with depression and low self-esteem.
Johnson said that was how she felt before she made a foolish decision that led her to prison.
“Don’t give up because that place that dark place you’re in, that sun is going to shine again,” said Johnson.
Johnson plans to head to Washington D.C. next week to meet with lawmakers about a project helping people falsely imprisoned or whose sentence is too severe.