President Donald Trump has fully pardoned Alice Marie Johnson two years after commuting her sentence.
In the 1990s, Johnson was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for her non-violent involvement in a drug conspiracy. Johnson's story was featured by CAN-DO, a clemency nonprofit. It's here that reality TV star Kim Kardashian West heard of Johnson's story and became a fierce advocate for her release. After West personally met with Trump, Trump commuted Johnson's sentence in July 2018.
A commutation is but one of the clemency powers granted to the executive under Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution. A commutation shortens a person's sentence, while a pardon absolves their conviction.
Since her commutation, Johnson has used her early release to call for long-overdue criminal justice reforms. On Thursday evening, Johnson spoke at the Republican National Convention.
"What I did was wrong. I made decisions that I regret. Some say, 'You do the crime, you do the time.' However, that time should be fair and just. We all made mistakes. None of us want to be defined forever based on our worst decision," she said in a moving speech. She also reminded her audience of the thousands of offenders just like her in federal prison "who deserve the opportunity to come home."
Johnson was invited to the White House on Friday afternoon, where Trump granted her a full pardon of her conviction. White House reporter Josh Wingrove said Johnson fought back tears during a prayer:
President @realDonaldTrump just signed a full pardon for Alice Johnson!
"We're very proud of Alice and the job you've done and what you represent." pic.twitter.com/RkZmnTe3wP
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) August 28, 2020
A few days before Johnson's pardon, Trump pardoned Jon Ponder, another criminal justice reformer.