Alice Marie Johnson has been in prison for 21 years for a first-time, nonviolent drug offense. pic.twitter.com/VFe29D2ve8— Mic (@mic) October 23, 2017
Is there really any justice in the criminal justice system?
Alice Marie Johnson, 62, is a grandmother and great-grandmother serving a life prison sentence for a nonviolent crime.
According to Mic, Johnson was convicted of drug conspiracy charges back in 1996 and was sentenced to life without parole for her involvement. The end of October will mark 21 years Johnson has spent behind bars, unable to watch her grandchildren and great-grandchildren grow or be by her own parents' sides before their deaths.
ACLU statistics reveal the very poignant reality that Johnson is just one of 3,278 people serving life without parole for nonviolent crimes. Among them, 79 percent are drug offenders and 65 percent are black — Johnson is both.
For those like Johnson, their only hope of getting out of prison is clemency, which can only be granted by the president. Although former President Barack Obama granted clemency to 231 people before leaving office, Johnson was not in that group, despite her case meeting the proper criteria, according to Mic.
Now, Johnson is directing her efforts toward criminal justice reform.
“Please wake up, America, and help end this injustice. It’s time to stop over-incarcerating your own citizens. Because that is what is going on,” Johnson reportedly said.
Life in prison without parole might as well be equivalent to a death sentence. While Johnson may have deserved to serve time for breaking the law, the amount she was given is totally excessive, especially as she was a first-time offender and her crime was nonviolent.
Criminal justice reform is long overdue in the United States as too many people of color fall victim to this unfair system that keeps human beings caged up like animals rather than rehabilitating them and giving them a second chance at life.