She’s the woman Kim Kardashian helped to free, after she spent 21 years behind bars. Here’s everything you need to know about the grandmother who moved the reality TV star.
On May 30, Kim Kardashian headed to the White House on a mission. The 37-year-old was determined to meet with the former reality TV star-turned president, Donald Trump, to help free Alice Johnson, a 63-year-old mother and grandmother who had served more than 21 years behind bars. Kim was moved to act ever since she heard the story of the first-time non-violent drug offender back in October 2017. Months later, and seven days after she met with Trump in the Oval Office, Kim celebrated after the president granted Alice clemency and she was released from prison. But who is Alice Johnson and why has her case gained such publicity?
1. Alice is a mother of five from Memphis, Tennessee who married her childhood sweetheart. In a piece she penned for CNN’s website, she wrote, “Before my incarceration, I had a full life…” She added, “Life for a time was good. But after almost two decades together and a tumultuous relationship, my husband and I divorced in 1989. It was during this time that my life began to spiral out of control.”
2. Her troubles began when she lost her job as a manager at FedEx, where she had worked for seven years. She said, “ I lost my job – and – then my youngest son was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident… No mother should have to bury her child. This weight was unbelievable, and it was a burden I couldn’t sustain. I made some very poor decisions out of desperation.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2018
3. Desperate for money, Alice became a “telephone drug mule,” and was given a life sentence for a first-time non-violent drug offence. In the Change.org petition she started to help free her mother, Tretessa Johnson quoted Alice as saying, “I couldn’t find a job fast enough to take care of my family. I felt like a failure. I went into a complete panic and out of desperation I made one of the worst decisions of my life to make some quick money. I became involved in a drug conspiracy.” On Oct. 31, 1996 Alice was given a life sentence.
4. She became an ordained minister and mentored young women while she was behind bars. She vowed, “And if I get out – I have a job secured, and plan to continue to help those in prison and work hard to change our justice system.”
5. More than 271,000 people signed her daughter’s online petition. After Trump announced he was granting Alice clemency, Kim tweeted, “The phone call I just had with Alice will forever be one of my best memories. Telling her for the first time and hearing her screams while crying together is a moment I will never forget.”