MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – From prison to the oval office, it’s been quite a year since President Trump granted a Memphis woman clemency and after 21 years in prison, Alice Marie Johnson talked to Local 24 News about her next chapter.
A federal judge sentenced Johnson to life in prison for her role in a drug trafficking operation. She is now using her freedom to be an advocate for criminal justice reform and telling it all in a new memoir.
Johnson admitted she made a bad mistake when she decided to become a liaison between drug dealers. She decided long ago not to make excuses, starting with making a difference behind prison bars and now that she’s out, she’s doing more of the same.
“You can lock me up, but you can’t lock my dreams up,” Johnson said.
Johnson said she would dream of freedom while locked up. Her sister kept reassuring her, prison would not be her final resting place.
“She wrote me a letter, and I kept that letter until it was tattered. She said God is going to do this in such a way that the world is going to know, he did it,” Johnson stressed.
She was in prison for her involvement with an international drug trafficking conspiracy in Memphis. What landed her there was a life full of bad choices. She lost a job at FedEx, was recently divorced, and was taking care of five children.
“I was the go-between, I’d pass the messages, I had all of the phone records. So I’d pass the message from one person, not so much street,” Johnson explained.
She received the second worst sentence next to death. However, while in prison, Johnson learned every skill she could, including mentoring women, and she became an ordained minister.
“I started writing plays and getting the women involved in dance, in theater, and artists emerged,” Johnson said. “I saw life change, change take place in the women’s lives”
Johnson started speaking at universities and YouTube events via Skype. Her story went viral and caught the attention of Kim Kardashian.
“Kim contacted Ivanka Trump, who told Jared about it. Jared started to look into my case, and they vetted my case completely,” she said.
Johnson is now sharing her story in a new memoir to inspire people to never give up hope, no matter how dark it looks.
“I hope that they will see the unwavering faith that I had, that nothing can stop hope,” she said.