Born in 1955 to Christian parents, Alice Marie Johnson was raised knowing right from wrong. As her African-American family struggled against discrimination and poverty, Alice—a child with a fighting spirit—witnessed how her parents helped other families oppose injustice.
Forced to marry in her teens, Alice gave birth to five children in swift succession. Living in poverty, she accumulated debts. She started gambling, and, in 1996, became a “telephone mule” for a cocaine-trafficking organization. She received a life sentence for her first-time, nonviolent offense.
As Alice served her prison sentence, her Christian faith and a deep sense of justice stood her in good stead. She began to lean on God like never before, praying, reading the Bible, and eventually taking on a leadership role as she prayed with prisoners, taught them about God, wrote biblical dramas, and directed dramas with and for the prison audience.
As Alice advocated for reform of the criminal justice system, a video produced with her testimony went viral. When celebrity Kim Kardashian West saw the video, she brought Alice’s story to the attention of the White House with the help of a dedicated legal team. In 2018, Alice’s sentence was commuted by President Donald Trump. Today, Alice continues to advocate for women in prison who received penalties that far outweighed the severity of their offenses.
After Life is a deeply moving portrait of a woman who came to understand that “God has not allowed anything that I have gone through to be wasted.” It is also a powerful testimony of the way God is at work in prisons, reaching people who feel broken, lost, and alone. (HarperCollins)
About the Author
Sonya VanderVeen Feddema is a freelance writer and a member of Covenant CRC in St. Catharines, Ontario.