Alice Marie Johnson, 62, was incarcerated in October 1996 for a first-time nonviolent drug offense after she helped facilitate communications in a drug trafficking case.
In a personal essay published on CNN, Johnson opens up about what Kardashian West’s help has meant to her, including the spotlight that has been placed on her case.
“Some refer to prison as a place where hope dies. Some days I’ve found that to be almost right,” Johnson writes. “Each time that I’ve come close [to giving up], God has restored my faith.”
“So when the unlikely voices of Kim Kardashian West and Jared Kushner came together to shine a spotlight on my case, I could only thank God, for he works in mysterious ways,” she continues.
Kardashian has reached out to President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Kushner, a num ber of times in attempt to get Johnson released from jail.
Johnson says the sudden media coverage and support “has been overwhelming” and hopes to be with her family “for the first Mother’s Day in 22 years,” a thought that she says makes her smile.
Calling her conviction “a death sentence,” Johnson writes she gained hope of being released in November 2016 when then-President Barack Obama announced clemency would be granted to select prisoners.
“My mind went racing,” she writes. “What if this could be my chance to be reunited with the outside world, to see my family or what is left of it?”
Johnson says she found strength in a Whitney Houston song, “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength,” and the lyric, “I was not built to break.”
Her two decades in prison took a toll on her family, including her four remaining children, one of whom dropped out of high school after her trial.
“I want this part to be clear: I acknowledge that I have done wrong. I made the biggest mistake of my life to make ends meet and got involved with people selling drugs,” she writes, describing her divorce and the death of one of her son’s as catalysts that caused her to make the wrong choices.
Since her prison sentence, Johnson has become an ordained minister and a mentor to young women in prison. She writes her goal once released is to continue helping those jailed.
“Trump has the power to give me a second chance,” Johnson writes. “He truly has the power to change our justice system for the better. I can only continue to be steadfast and hope that he hears me.”
A rep for Kardashian West confirmed to PEOPLE the TV reality star had been speaking with Trump adviser Kushner about the possibility of the president pardoning Johnson.
The Keeping Up with the Kardashians star has been in talks with Kushner for several months and those conversations have “picked up in intensity” in the last several days, according to Mic, citing a source with knowledge of the conversations.
Kardashian West apparently first learned about Johnson’s case from a previous Mic video published in October. She retweeted the clip and wrote: “This is so unfair.”
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Since then, the Keeping up with the Kardashians star has reportedly enlisted a team of L.A.-based lawyers, including her personal attorney Shawn Holley, to petition the White House to pardon Johnson.
Johnson thanked Kardashian West for her efforts in a November letter, according to TMZ, writing: “Ms. Kardashian you are literally helping to save my life and restore me to my family. I was drowning and you have thrown me a life jacket and given me hope.”