Alice Johnson works to help others get a second chance

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis native is vowing to use her life to pay it forward. She’s claiming victory of an unjust prison sentence after helping more than a dozen prisoners gain their freedom.

President Trump issued 143 pardons and commutations. Some of the names on his list came from Memphis native Alice Marie Johnson.

Johnson, once a convicted felon herself until Trump granted her clemency two years ago.

“‘I’m going to go wherever this takes me to advocate for the people who have no voice. they are depending on me to be their voice,” Johnson, a criminal justice reform advocate, said.

Since her release from prison in 2018, Johnson spends her time trying to help others get a second chance. Some of those receiving pardons or commutations from President Trump came at her suggestion.

Since high profile celebrities like Kim Kardashian petitioned the president for her early release after serving 21 years on a drug charge, she’s had Trump’s ear.

“I’m able to reach out directly to them and ask for support to ask them to take a close look at these cases that I’m advocating for,” Johnson said.

Johnson says she fought specifically for 16 of the 143 inmates receiving last minute pardons and commutations from Trump before he left office. Among them former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

“I’m so excited about Kwame coming home. A young talented Black man and he received a ridiculous sentence, one of the longest of anyone who committed a crime like his,” Johnson said.

Rapper Snoop Dogg reached out to her to add co-founder of Death Row Records Michael -aka- “Harry O” Harris to the list. After researching his case and clean prison record, she agreed. He too gained his freedom.

 “I take this work that I do very seriously. Advocacy. Because we’re talking about the lives of people and I know how that feels to have someone really fighting to save your life,” Johnson said.

Johnson says most of the inmates she advocates for are not well known or well connected. She plans to continue her work in prison reform even though there’s been a change of guard at the White House.

“I hope to do this work for not only this administration but the next administration and the next administration. I’m in this for the people who I serve,” Johnson said.

Johnson doesn’t live in the Mid-South but plans to relocate here soon to continue work with her criminal justice reform organization “Taking action for good.”

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