ALICE MARIE JOHNSON: CLEMENCIES SHOW AMERICA BELIEVES IN REDEMPTION
The criminal justice reform advocate petitioned the Trump administration
to grant deserving individuals second chances
With the announcement of the Trump administration’s pardons and commutations, criminal justice reform advocate Alice Marie Johnson called today “a day to honor mercy and justice, a day to celebrate the second chance given to many deserving individuals, and the families and communities who have been reunited with their loved ones.” Johnson said that she “feels blessed to have been put in a position to be the voice for the voiceless and to work every day to keep her promise to the men and women she left behind.”
On June 6, 2018, President Donald Trump commuted Johnson’s sentence after serving more than two decades of a life sentence in prison for a nonviolent drug offense. Since leaving prison, Johnson has committed herself to fight for deserving men and women to come home and to reform the criminal justice system on both the state and federal level.
Over the last year, Johnson has met with members of the Trump administration, making her case for clemencies and pardons. In a meeting with President Trump in November, Johnson spoke about some of these cases. “The President was engaged and interested,” said Johnson. “He asked lots of good questions. I left the White House very excited with a personal commitment to double down on my efforts.”
With the support of volunteer lawyers and advocates, Johnson submitted more than 100 cases in 2020 for consideration to the Trump administration. Of the individuals announced by the White House today, Johnson supported 18 commutations/pardons: Jaime Davidson, Ferrell Scott, John Knock, Corvain Cooper, Michael Pelletier, Craig Cesal, Lavonne Roach, David Barren, James Romans, Michael Harris, Chalana McFarland, Chris Young, Adrianne Miller, Kwame Kilpatrick, James Brian Cruz, Sholam Weiss, Amy Povah, and Joshua J. Smith.
“Men like Ferrell Scott and Michael Pelletier faced a lifetime behind prison bars for nonviolent drug offenses. Yes, they made mistakes in their past, but who hasn’t? And, despite that fate, these men committed themselves to a righteous path of redemption,” said Johnson. “Our justice system should honor and reward rehabilitation and that is what happened for many today, a recognition that no matter what mistakes we have made, we all can earn a second chance.”
Among Johnson’s recommendations was clemency for Michael “Harry-O” Harris, co-founder of Death Row Records, who has served more than 30 years in prison. Harris was scheduled for release in 2028. His commitment to his rehabilitation, his work as a journalist, role model and mentor, leader and philanthropist and his support from prison staff, local elected officials, law enforcement, celebrities, and members of the public made a compelling case for his release.
“I tried to look at Michael Harris the man,” said Johnson. “His commitment to self-improvement, good work and mentoring others in prison, and desire to be a positive force for good once released reminded me a lot of myself. I feel strongly that this man has earned and deserves a second chance,” said Johnson.
“While some cases may get more attention because they feed controversy and division, commutations like these are important and meaningful, especially two days after honoring the great Martin Luther King, Jr,” said Johnson. “While we celebrate today, let us not forget we still have laws in place that put nonviolent people in prison for life and there remain thousands behind bars today, who have paid their debt to society and who deserve a second chance to return home. Today is just more fuel for the fire in my heart to continue to fight for those who have no voice,” said Johnson.
ABOUT ALICE MARIE JOHNSON
After serving more than 21 years in federal prison for a first-time, nonviolent drug conspiracy case, President Donald J. Trump granted Alice Marie Johnson clemency on June 6, 2018 with the support of Kim Kardashian West, who had taken up her cause.
Since receiving clemency, Johnson has committed her life to helping others and continuing to fight for criminal justice reform for the women and men who are still incarcerated. Through her leadership of Taking Action for Good (TAG), Alice has devoted herself as a force for good, creating a cultural shift for restorative justice.
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