It finally happened. After months of advocating for the release of a non-violent first-time drug offender who was serving a life sentence, the TODAY show published a video of Kim Kardashian West meeting Alice Marie Johnson in Memphis on Wednesday. The show tweeted a preview of the first-time meeting between both women where Kardashian West and Johnson could be seen embracing each other.
An overjoyed Kardashian West told Johnson in the TODAY video, "It's just like — I mean, I already knew just by talking to you on the phone and seeing you in videos but I mean, you are everything and more that I ever thought." In the preview clip, Johnson told TODAY host Hoda Kotb that she was excited to see Kardashian West.
Kotb responded, "I think you both are going to be connected for a long time."
The meeting took place almost a week after Donald Trump commuted Johnson's sentence. On behalf of the president, the White House released a statement saying that the 63-year-old grandmother "has accepted responsibility for her past behavior and has been a model prisoner over the past two decades." The statement added, "While this Administration will always be very tough on crime, it believes that those who have paid their debt to society and worked hard to better themselves while in prison deserve a second chance."
Right after he commuted her sentence, the president wished Johnson well in a tweet. "Good luck to Alice Johnson," Trump tweeted. "Have a wonderful life!"
Johnson's release became a national topic partially due to Kardashian West's emphasis upon it and partially thanks to Trump's clemency. Right after she was released from federal prison, various news channels shared clips of an emotional and anxious Johnson running out of a car to meet her loved ones. The free woman told media, "I feel like my life is starting over again."
In the past, Kardashian West had spoken of Johnson's case. In an interview with Mic, the celebrity explained why cases like that of Johnson's moved her to work harder at social activism, particularly fixing America's broken justice system. "When I see a story like hers I go back to maybe decisions we’ve all made that probably — maybe not at that caliber — but if you think about a decision that you’ve made in your life and you get life without the possibility of parole for your first-time nonviolent offense, there’s just something so wrong with that," she told Mic.
Two years ago, while former president Barack Obama was in power, Johnson wrote an opinion-editorial in CNN, trying to make a case for her freedom. She admitted to conducting illegal business by getting involved in drug trafficking once but implored her readers, including perhaps Obama, to soften her sentence. To let her out. Two years later and under a different presidency, Johnson received another chance at her life.
Johnson's daughter thanked Trump and Kardashian West for their help in bringing her mother out of prison. In a Facebook post, Tretessa Johnson said, "Mama is coming home! Thank you, Lord, for your grace and blessings! Thanks so much, President Trump, for extending mercy towards my mother and giving her her freedom back. My heart is so full of gratitude for the beautiful inside and out Kim Kardashian West who decided to advocate for [Johnson] and essentially save the life of my mother, someone she had never heard of met."
There might be some confusion between the legal nature of clemency and pardoning. While Trump's commuting ends Johnson's sentence, it does not take away her conviction.