Alice Johnson’s life was coming apart. The single mother of five children, and a FedEx employee for a decade, she fell into gambling. Facing foreclosure and bankruptcy, she made a desperate choice: she became a “telephone mule” for a drug ring in Memphis, Tennessee, and passed messages via phone calls as an intermediary. Alice maintains that she never used or even handled drugs. She was still convicted of conspiracy, and in 1997 began serving a life sentence plus 25 years without the possibility of parole. How this remarkable woman became a champion for other incarcerated men and women, and an advocate for criminal justice is a story Dr. Mehmet Oz heard when he attended a Stand Together summit in Palm Springs.
Dr. Oz recently invited Alice to appear on his show to talk about her transformation from an incarcerated individual to a free woman—an astonishing tale in which Kim Kardashian (at the time, Alice didn’t know who she was) told President Trump about Alice’s case. Ultimately, he was moved to commute her sentence.
While in prison, Alice fought for fellow prisoners’ rights to attend vocational training, and she started a theatrical production program, staging plays that she wrote. As a free woman, she turned her abilities and energy to the cause of criminal justice reform, partnered with Stand Together, and played a key role in helping pass the historic First Step Act last year.
During the show, Alice talks about what it takes to not just survive but thrive behind bars, and the things that are most important to her now.