Alice Johnson prepares to speak at RNC about criminal justice reform

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Alice Johnson, a Memphis woman who spent 20 years in prison, is speaking at the Republican National Convention Thursday night about criminal justice reform.

Two years ago, President Donald Trump commuted Johnson’s life sentence. She was convicted of drug conspiracy charges back in 1996. Since she was released from prison, she has been telling her story and even started a criminal justice reform organization.

Now the Memphis woman is preparing to tell her story to a grand audience, as she was invited to speak at the RNC on Thursday night. Johnson said she is thrilled to speak in front of the nation about a topic that is very important to her.

“Jared Kushner called me on behalf of President Trump and invited me to speak and asked me if I would come on and speak at this convention,” Johnson said. “I was really really excited to do it.”

Johnson is currently in Atlanta preparing for her big day to talk about policing practices in communities. This is a topic she knows all too well.

She was a first-time nonviolent drug offender and was sentenced to life in prison under older federal drug laws. Her story garnished attention on social media, and reality star Kim Kardashian took her story to the White House.

Shortly after, the president decided to grant her clemency after 22 years behind bars.

“I’m very grateful for everything that President Trump did for me,” Johnson said. “He changed my life, and that’s something you can’t deny. He is the one who saw my story and had compassion upon me to (release me). That’s the reason I’m here today, so of course, I would speak at the president’s convention.”

Johnson knows all too well the tolls the criminal justice system can take on a person. So, she decided to do something about it. She created an outreach program to help others who are in similar situations, as she was in. Additionally, she said this is not a partisan issue, it is something that all people regardless of party affiliation should work on.

“We have to be able to reach across the aisle. This is not just a Republican or Democrat issue of criminal justice reform. It is all of our issues,” Johnson said.

Johnson said her speech will cover her life story, and she will talk about the importance of criminal justice reform. She said since she was released from prison, she made a promise to the women she left behind and herself, that she would continue to fight for them.

When it comes down to who she will vote for? Johnson said she is not voting for Biden or Trump. That is because she cannot vote, as she is a convicted felon. It is just another issue she plans on continuing to fight for.

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