Alice Marie Johnson's gave a message to President Donald Trump on Thursday after he commuted her sentence this week, expressing gratitude for what he did for her and her family.
"I'd like to tell the president, I have not heard directly from the White House yet, but I'd like to tell President Trump that I am so grateful for everything that you've done for me and my family," Johnson said on ABC's "Good Morning America."
On Wednesday, Trump commuted Johnson's life sentence for a nonviolent drug offense. Trump was made aware of Johnson's case after he met with Kim Kardashian West, who has been a vocal advocate for Johnson's release from prison.
ABC anchor Michael Strahan asked Johnson how it felt to be free after serving 22 years in prison.
"It's an amazing feeling. Especially just being with my family again," Johnson said. "It was the most exhilarating feeling I've ever had, Michael. I wanted to — I wanted to jump into their arms."
Johnson believes she paid her debt to society and holds no grudges for being imprisoned for 22 years.
"I feel that I have not only paid my debt but I've overpaid the debt for what I — for the crime that I committed, but I'm just so thankful," Johnson said. "I'm not bitter about it. I'm just happy that it has come to an end."
The White House released a statement praising Johnson for "accepting responsibility for her past behavior" and being a "model prisoner."
"Ms. Johnson has accepted responsibility for her past behavior and has been a model prisoner over the past two decades. Despite receiving a life sentence, Alice worked hard to rehabilitate herself in prison, and act as a mentor to her fellow inmates," the White House said.
Johnson's story became nationally known when Kardashian West saw a video from Mic, where Johnson detailed how she got involved in drug trafficking after a series of life events. She described how she lost her job at FedEx due to gambling addiction, she lost a son in a motorcycle accident, and then her marriage ended in divorce.
"I went into a complete panic, and out of desperation, I made one of the worst decisions of my life to make some quick money," Johnson said.
Once Kardashian West saw the video, she personally got involved in trying to get Johnson released from prison.
"Kim Kardashian West took your story to the president. Why do you think your story stuck so much with her and made her go to the president and ask for your release?" Strahan asked Johnson.
"From the very first, when Kim heard about my story and we connected, we truly had a heart connection with this. And she … told me that she knew this was meant to be," Johnson said. "At the time when she saw it – when it popped up on her phone, it was a moment she knew ‘this is the moment. This is the person that she needs to do something.'"
She added this is all happening because of Trump's mercy and urged the president to help others like her, who are still in prison.
"This moment right now is happening because President Trump had mercy on me and I'd like to tell him that please, please remember us, the others who have been left behind because there are so many, as you said, like me who need to have … the opportunity that I've had," Johnson said.
Trump tweeted about Johnson on Thursday morning, telling her good luck and to "Have a wonderful life!"
Good luck to Alice Johnson. Have a wonderful life!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 7, 2018