Alice Marie Johnson back in Memphis after 21 years behind bars

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It's a new day for a Memphis woman who was released from prison Wednesday after President Trump commuted her life sentence.

Alice Marie Johnson was convicted of drug conspiracy charges back in 1996.

Now she is back with her family.

The last 24 hours have been a whirlwind for the 63-year-old Johnson.

When WREG spoke to her Thursday, she'd only slept a couple of hours since being released from an Alabama prison, but said she is enjoying every second of her new freedom.

"There's so much food, crying, hugging, singing and dancing. Everyone is celebrating," Johnson said.

She sat down for an interview at her lawyer's office in Downtown Memphis and says she's still pinching herself.

Kim Kardashian-West hired a team of attorneys and brought her case to the president's attention.

"Kim was the key to all of this. Without her, I would still be in Aliceville," Johnson said.

Denied clemency three times during the Obama administration, Johnson says this time it felt different.

"To have the President of The United States feel that I deserve a second chance makes me feel so grateful to him. The only thing I can do is to make him proud that I he did it and not disappoint him," she said.

Johnson Daughter, Katina Scales called the reunion with her mom surreal.

"I keep touching her to make sure she is real.  I don't think it's going to set in for probably another week or so when she's still there," said Scales.

Johnson says she already has plans to work, wants to write plays and catch up where she left off.

"I want a cell phone. I've been seeing everyone walking around with one."

She also plans to fight for sentencing reform and said she is not going to forget the ones she left behind in prison.

"They are in situations like mine. They're caught up in a system of mandatory minimum sentencing as non-violent offenders, just like me.  Many of them are given no hope of coming home alive again. One thing they kept telling me is, 'You have given us hope," said Johnson.

A commuted sentence replaces the original court ordered sentence but does not change the conviction.

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