Alice Marie Johnson is a free woman after spending 21 years in federal prison for a nonviolent drug conviction.
Johnson – who had been serving a life sentence for a first-time offense – left prison in Aliceville, Alabama on Wednesday evening.
Her release followed a commutation by President Donald Trump just days after Kim Kardashian West lobbied on Johnson’s behalf during an Oval Office meeting with Trump about prison reform.
In a telephone interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper Wednesday night, Johnson, 63, thanked Trump for giving her a second chance.
“I am going to make you proud that you gave me this second chance in life,” she said. “I will not disappoint the American public, or the world who had so much faith in me. All I can say is thank you President Trump.”
An emotional Johnson also thanked Kardashian, who “never gave up her fight.”
"I want to say to President Trump: I am going to make you proud that you gave me this second chance in life."
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) June 7, 2018
She said Kardashian broke the clemency news to her during a phone call earlier in the day, when a warden escorted her to a room to speak with the reality star.
“The phone call I just had with Alice will forever be one of my best memories,” Kardashian tweeted. “Telling her for the first time and hearing her screams while crying together is a moment I will never forget.”
The phone call I just had with Alice will forever be one of my best memories. Telling her for the first time and hearing her screams while crying together is a moment I will never forget.
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) June 6, 2018
Johnson told Cooper it felt strange to be outside prison walls.
“I have not been in a car without handcuffs in almost 22 years,” she said. “I am loving looking at just trees, look at the cars and looking at birds and not looking at all these things through prison bars. This is so wonderful to me.”
The great-grandmother was convicted in 1996 on charges related to cocaine distribution and money laundering. She was given a life sentence without parole.
On May 30, Kardashian visited the White House and urged Trump to pardon the Memphis, Tennessee native, who is now a great-grandmother and became an ordained minister in prison.
“Ms. Johnson has accepted responsibility for her past behavior and has been a model prisoner over the past two decades,” the White House said in a statement. “Despite receiving a life sentence, Alice worked hard to rehabilitate herself in prison, and act as a mentor to her fellow inmates.”