State of the Union 2019: Pardoned inmate Alice Johnson moved to tears by President Donald Trump's praise

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Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Pardoned inmate Alice Johnson moved to tears by SOTU praise
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ABC News takes a look back at highlights of the State of the Union, including Alice Johnson's emotional reaction to the president's praise.

Eight months after pardoning her, President Donald Trump took time out of his State of the Union address to share words of praise for non-violent drug offender Alice Marie Johnson.

"When I saw Alice's beautiful family greet her at the prison gates, hugging and kissing and crying and laughing, I knew I did something right," he said. "Alice, thank you for reminding us that we always have the power to shape our own destiny."

Johnson served 22 years in prison for her involvement in a drug trafficking operation, but she said she never personally sold drugs. Her case gained attention thanks to the efforts of Kim Kardashian West.

When Johnson was released last June, she said she was grateful to the president but also pleaded with him to consider more cases like hers.

On Tuesday night, the crowd gave Johnson a standing ovation after the president touted her as a shining example. He said she spent her time in prison as a minister inspiring others to choose a better path.

"She had a big impact on that prison population -- and far beyond. Alice's story underscores the disparities and unfairness that can exist in criminal sentencing -- and the need to remedy this total injustice," Trump said.

Trump explained that Alice's story and others inspired the bipartisan effort to pass the First Step Act. The First Step Act is a criminal justice reform law that reduces prison sentences, by changing the sentencing guidelines and facilitating early release, and supports education and treatment programs in prison.

Johnson's stellar week didn't stop with the State of the Union. On Wednesday, it was announced she will have a book, After Life: My Journey From Incarceration to Freedom which will come out in May. Kardashian West contributed a foreword to what Harper is calling an "honest, faith-driven memoir" and a "deep look into the systemic issue of mass incarceration." Johnson also sold film and television rights to the story.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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