News Release

Alice Marie Johnson Receives Champion of Justice Community Advocacy Award from the Nation’s Criminal Defense Bar

Washington, DC (Sept. 21, 2020) Alice Marie Johnson was awarded the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) Champion of Justice Community Advocacy Award on September 17, 2020 by Immediate Past President Nina J. Ginsberg during the NACDL Foundation for Criminal Justice (NFCJ) virtual gala, Justice for All. Justice Now. Champion of Justice Awards are bestowed upon those individuals who—through legal, legislative, journalistic, or humanitarian pursuits—have staunchly preserved or defended the constitutional rights of American citizens and have endeavored to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime.

“One of the most gratifying opportunities I will have as NACDL’s immediate past president is to present this year’s Champion of Justice Award to Alice Marie Johnson,” said Immediate Past President Nina J. Ginsberg. “Alice is being recognized this evening for her selfless and inspiring work in support of clemency, prison reform, her work to end mass incarceration, and to restore dignity to the deserving men and women she left behind whose sentences were neither fair nor just.”

Alice Marie Johnson, CEO of Taking Action for Good Foundation (TAG), author, advocate, and former federal prisoner is a renowned leader, speaker, and luminary in the criminal justice reform movement. Alice was sentenced to mandatory life in prison without the possibility of parole in 1997. While incarcerated, Alice continuously exhibited good behavior and spent her time advocating for other incarcerated women. In addition to mentoring, she became a playwright, choreographer and director of the praise dance ministry, and a certified hospice volunteer. Alice developed fitness programs for women over 50 and received the Special Olympics Events Coordinator of the Year Award for her work with disabled women. After over 21 years in federal prison, Alice Marie Johnson received a presidential commutation on June 6, 2018. After her release, Alice committed her life to helping others and continuing to fight for criminal justice reform for the women and men who are still incarcerated, and on August 28, 2020, she received a full presidential pardon.

“I am so very humbled and honored to be the recipient of this award being presented to me by an organization that I greatly admire. I have personally been a beneficiary of the advocacy work for prisoners done by NACDL, people I don’t even know. You have no idea how much it means to have people step up and say, ‘I am going to fight for you,’” said Alice Marie Johnson upon receiving the award. “It is with a heart overflowing with thankfulness that I accept this Champion of Justice Award and I salute all of the unsung champions of justice who continue to fight for the justice and dignity of others.”

Alice has devoted herself as a force for good, creating a cultural shift for restorative justice. Due to her tireless work while incarcerated, fighting for equal treatment and equal access for women who had been denied training and educational opportunities because of their long sentences, Alice was honored in 2019 as one of four women designated as a “Women’s Right Defender” at the United Nations on International Women’s Day. Alice has appeared on numerous media outlets advocating for criminal justice reform and has been a featured speaker and panelist at numerous instrumental events and summits. She has been deemed a “catalyst” for the successful passage of the First Step Act; the most significant criminal justice legislation in recent history. Alice Marie Johnson is a published author with her memoir, After Life: My Journey from Incarceration to Freedom, and is a proud mother, grandmother, and great grandmother living in Chandler, Arizona.


Kate Holden, NACDL Public Affairs and Communications Assistant, (202) 465-7624 or

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.

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