In her speech during Night Four of the Republican National Convention, Alice Marie Johnson highlighted President Donald Trump’s successful efforts to implement criminal justice reform.
Johnson was sentenced in the mid-1990s to life in prison, according to Reason.
She was convicted of being involved in a drug-trafficking conspiracy, but her involvement was nonviolent.
Still, she was slapped with a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
The New York Post reported that Johnson’s harsh sentence was due in part to policies pushed by former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic Party’s nominee for president.
“As a single mom of five in 1996, Johnson, now 65, was slapped with five concurrent life sentences without the chance of parole on a first-time non-violent drug charge for her involvement in a million-dollar cocaine ring,” the Post reported.
“Biden co-authored the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act, which allowed judges to sentence first-time felons to life imprisonment for drug offenses exceeding 5 kilograms of cocaine.
“Previously, a person could not be sentenced to more than 20 years for cocaine offenses.”
In 2018, Trump commuted Johnson’s sentence, reportedly after being asked to do so by reality TV star Kim Kardashian.
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“When President Trump heard about me — about the injustice of my story — he saw me as a person,” Johnson said in her RNC speech, which aired Thursday.
“He had compassion. And he acted. Free in body thanks to President Trump,” she added.
“But free in mind thanks to the almighty God.”
Also in 2018, Trump signed into law the FIRST STEP Act, a prison reform bill that received significant bipartisan support.
“Six months after President Trump granted me a second chance, he signed the FIRST STEP Act into law,” Johnson said.
“It was real justice reform. And it brought joy, hope and freedom to thousands of well-deserving people. I hollered ‘Hallelujah!’” she added.
“My faith in justice and mercy was rewarded. Imagine getting to hug your loved ones again. And to think, this first step meant so much to so many. I can’t wait because we’re just getting started.”
Among other things, the legislation is meant to give offenders like Johnson a second chance.
“The First Step Act enacted commonsense reforms to make our justice system fairer and help inmates successfully transition back into society,” according to a White House statement.
“The First Step Act provided the opportunity for sentencing relief for certain defendants who received mandatory minimum sentences prior to the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010,” the statement added.
In an April 2019 statement, Trump pointed out that the legislation would both reduce crime and give convicts “a chance at redemption.”
“Americans from across the political spectrum can unite around prison reform legislation that will reduce crime while giving our fellow citizens a chance at redemption,” the president said.
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