Alice Marie Johnson to President Trump: 'I am going to make you proud'

Alice Marie Johnson's life changed on Wednesday -- and she has US President Donald Trump and Kim Kardashian West to t...

Posted: Jun 7, 2018 12:25 PM
Updated: Jun 7, 2018 12:25 PM

Alice Marie Johnson's life changed on Wednesday -- and she has US President Donald Trump and Kim Kardashian West to thank.

And thank them she did as soon as she left an Alabama prison after 21 years behind bars.

"I feel like my life is starting over again," an emotional Johnson told reporters outside the prison in Aliceville.

Trump commuted the first-time nonviolent drug offender's life sentence on Wednesday, one week after Kardashian pleaded her case in an Oval Office meeting with the President.

Johnson admitted that she didn't know much about Kardashian before the starlet became involved in her case. But, over time, they formed a bond, and Kardashian was the one to break the clemency news to Johnson in a phone call with her lawyers.

"I started screaming, and crying and jumping. I think I lost it for a moment," Johnson recalled.

"I want to tell Kim, my angel, that you never gave up on me. You never gave up your fight. You were relentless and it has paid off beautifully for me and my family on this day."

As for Trump, she said she wants him to know that she won't let him down.

"I am going to make you proud that you gave me this second chance in life. And I will not disappoint the American public or the world that has so much faith in me," Johnson told CNN.

"It means that someone finally saw me, someone finally heard me, someone had mercy on me -- and that was President Trump, and so I'm so thankful for him and what he's done."

'It's time to go home'

The 63-year-old grandmother was convicted in 1996 of conspiracy to possess cocaine and attempted possession of cocaine. She was sentenced to life in prison.

Her daughter, Catina Scales, said she was seven months pregnant when her mother went to prison. Now, her own daughter is seven months pregnant, and she can't wait to meet her grandmother.

"There's a lot of family that want to see her. She's been gone for so long," she said. "We plan to go back to Memphis. We are going to go home!"

Scales said she learned about her mother's grant of clemency at the same time as the public. Then, she received a phone call from her mother.

"My conversation with my mom consisted of this: 'Come and get me. It's time to go home!'" Scales told CNN in a phone call on her way to pick up her mother.

Tretessa Johnson, Scales' sister, said she always thought she'd greet her mother the moment she walked out of prison. But the news came so fast she could not make it in time.

"I always had hope she'd be released, but I didn't know that today when I woke up this morning today was the day," she said.

President Barack Obama did not intervene in the case during his eight years in office because the Justice Department recommended denying Johnson's request for a commutation. Three requests were made -- one during his first term, two during his second -- but they never reached Obama's desk because he followed Justice Department recommendations, a senior Obama administration official told CNN.

Johnson admitted there were moments when she nearly lost hope, including one of the times when she lost her bid for clemency.

"That was a pretty rough day for me. But my daughter tells me I remind her of a phoenix," she said. "I guess in order to be a phoenix I had to rise above the ashes."

First meal already planned

Cameras captured Johnson's reunion with family members after a van transported her outside the prison. As soon as she stepped out of the van, she ran toward waiting family members who greeted her with hugs, flowers and tears.

It's the happiest day of her life -- but it's overwhelming, she told CNN.

"I have not been in a car without handcuffs in almost 22 years," she said. "I am loving looking at just trees, look at the cars and looking at birds and not looking at all these things through prison bars. This is so wonderful to me.

She has a job lined up and she hopes to become involved in the criminal justice system.

Otherwise, she said she knows one thing for certain: Her first meal will be at Red Lobster. She's been craving seafood for a long time.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to give the correct last name for Johnson's daughter, Catina Scales.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 67649

Reported Deaths: 1912
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5613118
DeSoto365831
Harrison252036
Madison242266
Rankin228334
Jackson227642
Jones189958
Forrest180656
Washington166341
Lee146241
Lauderdale141292
Neshoba128692
Lamar122014
Oktibbeha112239
Bolivar111334
Warren109333
Lowndes107737
Panola105913
Sunflower103925
Scott100320
Lafayette97316
Copiah95428
Pike93636
Leflore93363
Holmes89248
Grenada84721
Yazoo83112
Pontotoc8278
Lincoln81741
Monroe79655
Simpson79630
Leake78825
Wayne76721
Coahoma76013
Tate73429
Marshall6959
Marion67720
Union63616
Adams62325
Winston62016
Covington61213
George5815
Pearl River55039
Newton54211
Tallahatchie53110
Attala52225
Walthall50220
Chickasaw46219
Noxubee45711
Alcorn4285
Calhoun4189
Tishomingo4175
Prentiss41210
Claiborne40713
Smith40513
Clay39614
Hancock39014
Jasper3869
Tippah36613
Itawamba35910
Tunica3377
Clarke32726
Montgomery3265
Lawrence3238
Yalobusha31510
Humphreys29311
Quitman2691
Carroll26111
Greene25012
Perry2367
Webster23412
Kemper23314
Amite2326
Jefferson Davis2316
Wilkinson21213
Stone1995
Sharkey1975
Jefferson1967
Benton1441
Choctaw1344
Franklin1272
Issaquena261
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 99390

Reported Deaths: 1733
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson13109243
Mobile9947207
Montgomery6835148
Madison537834
Tuscaloosa421373
Unassigned359961
Baldwin354425
Shelby328335
Marshall316736
Lee267845
Morgan239318
Etowah212131
DeKalb181913
Calhoun178414
Elmore172338
Walker152664
Houston139812
Russell13682
St. Clair133817
Limestone133313
Dallas132323
Franklin127420
Cullman122512
Colbert118113
Autauga116921
Lauderdale116719
Escambia108217
Talladega102614
Jackson9894
Tallapoosa85579
Chambers84138
Dale83424
Blount8004
Chilton7926
Butler76436
Coffee7616
Covington73520
Pike7097
Clarke6629
Barbour5755
Marion57424
Lowndes57224
Marengo55215
Hale47626
Bullock46411
Winston45311
Perry4424
Bibb4385
Wilcox42910
Monroe4214
Randolph40110
Pickens4009
Conecuh39310
Washington39112
Sumter36018
Lawrence3491
Macon33514
Crenshaw3185
Choctaw28312
Cherokee2737
Henry2633
Geneva2611
Clay2585
Greene25111
Lamar2222
Fayette2075
Cleburne1271
Coosa1012
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Clear
80° wxIcon
Hi: 98° Lo: 75°
Feels Like: 84°
Columbus
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 96° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 78°
Oxford
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 73°
Starkville
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 75°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather