Alice Johnson, the woman who had her prison sentence commuted by President Donald Trump in 2018, spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Saturday.
“My life has been totally changed by President Trump,” she said, thanking the president for realizing her plight and acting to free her.
CPAC attendees were familiar with Johnson after she was featured in a Trump campaign Super Bowl ad in 2020, and his State of the Union speech, but her appearance at the conservative conference allowed her to share the details of her story.
“I made a mistake, I take full responsibility for something that was wrong,” she said, sharing the story of how she found herself as a divorced single mother of five children after 19 years of marriage. She admitted that she became addicted to gambling, lost her job, and lost a 12-year-old son in a scooter accident.
Under those circumstances, she admitted, she turned to crime, acting as a phone mule for a multimillion-dollar cocaine ring.
“I’m going to call it just what it was; it was an opportunity from hell,” she said. “You see what’s right now but you never ever see the end. Sin will always take you further than you thought you would go.”
Johnson drew audible gasps from the crowd after revealed she was sentenced to life in prison with an additional 25 years with no parole.
She said she was offered three to five years if she entered into a plea deal and had no idea that a life sentence was even on the table.
Johnson said she was sent to a prison 1,500 miles away from home.
“I had a family, and they would tell me that visiting me in prison was like visiting a graveyard because they would come and see the place where my body lay but they could never ever take me back home again,” she said.
In prison, she said, she worked to help other women’s lives with mentorship and counseling.
“I was able to bring light into a place that only is supposed to be darkness because I went there, but I did not go there by myself,” she said. “The Lord was with me.”
Johnson shocked the crowd when she revealed that she spent 21 years, seven months, and six days in federal prison and her appeal was turned down three times.
The rest is history, as video of her case made it’s way on Twitter to celebrity Kim Kardashian, who shared it on Twitter and brought her case to the attention of President Trump.
“We know it was divine intervention,” she said, adding that she, “had no idea who Kim Kardashian was.”
Johnson thanked the president for commuting the sentences of three other women that she singled out for a second chance last week, noting that she had become the face of criminal justice reform.
“I became a face of compassion, of redemption, of grace, and of second chances, because that is what this country has been built upon,” she said.
She praised Trump for signing the criminal justice reform bill and making it a significant part of his administration.
“It’s more than just a social justice issue, it’s a humanitarian issue,” she said.