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Hours After Convention Speech, Alice Johnson Receives Pardon

Kim Kardashian West had championed her case
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 28, 2020 4:31 PM CDT

(Newser) – President Trump pardoned a woman on Friday who was a featured speaker on the final night of the Republican National Convention and had praised him as a compassionate leader. Trump pardoned Alice Marie Johnson, who had spent more than two decades serving life without parole for a nonviolent drug offense. She had been convicted in 1996 on eight criminal counts related to a Memphis-based cocaine trafficking operation. Trump commuted her life sentence in 2018 at the urging of celebrity Kim Kardashian West, allowing her early release. A commutation shortens or eliminates a sentence; the pardon signifies forgiveness and restores certain civil rights. In her speech Thursday, the AP reports, Johnson said she was free "by the grace of God and the compassion of President Donald John Trump."

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Johnson had spoken at the convention about the power of redemption. She said that what she did was wrong, but that sentences need to be fair and just. "Truth is, there are thousands of people just like me, who deserve the opportunity to come home," Johnson told convention viewers. Trump said Friday at the White House that Johnson had done an "incredible job" since her release in identifying additional prisoners who also could be eligible for early release. "We're very proud of Alice and the job you’ve done and what you represent," Trump said. Johnson was clearly emotional when Trump handed her the pardon document. She clutched it close, then bowed her head in prayer. Trump has sought to highlight criminal justice reform leading up to November's election as he reaches out to African American voters.

(Read more presidential pardon stories.)

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