Alice Johnson's release sparks prison sentence debate

Alice Johnson released after sentence commuted
Updated: Jun. 6, 2018 at 10:32 PM CDT
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ALICEVILLE, AL (WBRC) - What is the potential impact of Wednesday's release of Alice Johnson? She walked out of prison in Aliceville, Alabama, on Wednesday and into a national conversation about criminal punishment.

President Donald Trump commuted her sentence at the suggestion of reality superstar Kim Kardashian.

Alice Johnson is now home with her family after spending 21 years in federal prison for a first-time drug conviction.

"I'm feeling no handcuffs, nothing on me. I'm free to hug my family," said Alice Johnson.

A long overdue emotional reunion for 63-year-old Alice Johnson and her loved ones. Johnson was serving a life sentence for a nonviolent 1997 drug offense.

"A woman who has never met me who has embraced my story," said Johnson.

Kim Kardashian visited the White House asking President Trump for her release.

"Kim told me when she left that White House meeting no matter how this turns out I will never stop fighting for you until you come home," said Johnson.

To her surprise she got the call she'd been praying for, not knowing she'd be leaving inside those prison walls for good.

"I heard Kim Kardashian's voice and she was the one that told me that it had happened that I was free that I was going to rejoin my family," said Johnson.

"When you stop and think about how many thousands of inmates there are so for her to have this happen it's like she won the lottery," said Michael Upton Tuscaloosa attorney.

Tuscaloosa criminal attorney Michael Upton said this could spark a domino effect for other inmates with similar stories to get a second chance and said the White House needs a task force for cases like these.

"I hope that they will start searching for more Alice Johnson's and find the people who are serving way more time then they need to," said Upton.

Johnson doesn't plan on wasting her new beginning. "I'm going to pull off my shoes and shout all over Memphis. They're going to have to catch me from running," said Johnson.

President Trump commuted Johnson's sentence freeing her from prison, but unlike a pardon, her money laundering and conspiracy charges will still stay on her record.

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