Alice Johnson, an American criminal justice reform advocate and former federal prisoner, delivered a speech on the final night of the Republican National Convention Thursday.
ALICE JOHNSON: Good evening. I'm Alice Marie Johnson. I was once told that the only way I would ever be reunited with my family would be as a corpse. But by the grace of God and the compassion of President Donald John Trump, I stand before you tonight, and I assure you I'm not a ghost. I am alive. I am well. And most importantly, I am free.
In 1996, I began serving time in prison, life plus 25 years. I had never been in trouble. I was a first-time nonviolent offender. 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've all made mistakes. None of us want to be defined forever based on our worst decision.
While in prison, I became a playwright, a mentor, a certified hospice volunteer, an ordained minister, and received the Special Olympics event coordinator of the year award for my work with disabled women. Because the only thing worse than unjustly imprisoning my body is trying to imprison my mind. My transformation was described as extraordinary. Truth is, there are thousands of people just like me who deserve the opportunity to come home.
I never stopped fighting for my freedom. My Christian faith and the prayers of so many kept hope alive. When President Trump heard about me, about the injustice of my story, he saw me as a person. He had compassion, and he acted. Free in body thanks to President Trump, but free in mind thanks to the almighty God.
I couldn't believe it. I always remembered that God knew my name, even in my darkest hour, but I never thought a president would. When I was released on June 6, 2018, I ran across that road and hugged my grandchildren for the first time.
I'll never forget that feeling. And then I remembered the promise I had made to the men and women I left behind, that I would never stop fighting for them, and I haven't. I'm using my voice to tell their stories. And I pray that my face reminds you of those forgotten faces.