Alice Johnson embracing newfound freedom after two decades behind bars

Alice Johnson starts her new life

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- On her first full day of freedom, Alice Johnson gave thanks for her new life. With prison now behind her, she's finding freedom in the arms of her family.

"I'm feeling no handcuffs on me. I'm free to hug my family," she said.

The 63-year-old great grandmother was serving life without parole for drug charges.

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Alice Johnson Photo via Change.org

"This time yesterday I was in prison looking through bars," Johnson said.

When asked what she's noticing now that she's outside, she said "I can't get over these phones. I want a phone!"

"If you've noticed, I keep touching her because it's hard to believe she's actually here," said Catina Scales, Johnson's daughter.

In 1996, Johnson was convicted of federal drug and money laundering charges. The indictment describes dozens of deliveries and drug transactions involving Johnson, who was a leader in a multi-million dollar cocaine ring.

"I made one of the worst mistakes of my life to make some quick money," Johnson said.

It ended up being a video on the news site Mic that caught the attention of Kim Kardashian West. Last week, the reality star lobbied the president for Johnson's clemency.

"Never in my wildest dreams did I think Kim Kardashian would take my cause on," Johnson said.

In prison Wednesday, she got a call from Kardashian West.

"She said, 'You can go home, you can go home now.' When I heard the word 'home,' I started screaming and jumping and crying," Johnson said.

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Kim Kardashian went to the White House to lobby for Alice Johnson's release Twitter

The president commuted her sentence, a move the Justice Department had resisted under President Obama.

We asked her what she would say to people who think she should serve out the rest of her sentence.

"I don't believe that there should be a non-violent offender like myself sentenced to life," she said.

On her first full day of freedom, she gave thanks for her second chance, and the man who granted it.

"I just knew him from 'The Apprentice' and other things and he was funny to me," Johnson said. "I loved hearing him say 'You're fired.' He just told me 'You're free!'"

As for Johnson's next steps, she'll have regular check-ins with her parole officer and is making plans to meet Kardashian West soon.