Alice Marie Johnson said Thursday that having her lifetime prison sentence commuted by President Donald Trump was "a very humbling experience" and that she would be "a force" in the administration's reform efforts.
"This is a very humbling experience for me because I know that it is all grace," Johnson, 63, who spent 21 years in prison in Alabama without parole, told Brooke Baldwin on CNN. "I know that it is all grace.
"It's a miracle for me."
Trump commuted Johnson's sentence Wednesday after her cause was championed by reality TV star Kim Kardashian West in a recent visit to the White House.
Johnson was convicted in 1996 on eight criminal counts related to a Memphis-based cocaine trafficking operation involving more than a dozen people.
The 1994 indictment described dozens of deliveries and drug transactions, many involving Johnson.
She was sentenced to life in prison in 1997, and appellate judges and the U.S. Supreme Court had rejected her appeals.
Johnson had a motion pending for a reduction in her sentence when Trump made his decision, but federal prosecutors opposed it because they argued it was in accordance with federal guidelines.
"It is an amazing feeling," Johnson told Baldwin of no longer being behind bars. "When I think about where I would be out today in this moment in time, it makes me believe all day long that I have been whispering Lord."
Johnson said remained hopeful and sustained herself on the support from her family.
"I never gave up hope," she said. "Not every day was a good day.
"I would pull out my family pictures and look at my children — and I hoped to see my parents again.
She said both parents died while she was in prison.
"My family is full of faith," Johnson told Baldwin. "I pulled out letters.
"My sister sent me a letter, so I could read it and be encouraged.
"I read it so many times."
She said she would be an active force in the Trump administration's efforts at prison reform, led by son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner.
"I believe because I'm recognized now and my case is magnified through media, it has caught the attention of others," Johnson said. "People don't know unless it is brought before them.
"I'm thankful for the media that has been covering this because they have magnified the plight of those serving these sentences for non-violent crimes.
"I will be a force in this fight."
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