Last year, the story of Matthew Charles captivated the nation.
In the 1990s, Charles received a sentence of 35 years for dealing crack cocaine; he was released in 2016 after serving 21 years. After being released, Charles found a job, began volunteering and attending church, and spent time with his family. However, the U.S. Attorney’s office decided to appeal Charles’ release, since he had served time before, and a court of appeals agreed he had been released in error — so after two years of freedom, Charles was sent back to prison in 2018 to finish his sentence.
But because the bipartisan FIRST STEP Act lessened mandatory-minimum drug sentences, he’s free once again.
Several members of Congress tweeted about meeting with him, including Republicans Mike Lee of Utah and Doug Collins of Georgia, as well as Democrat Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois.
The First Step Act is working! pic.twitter.com/BoQI05stug
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) January 29, 2019
Matthew Charles reminds us that investing in redemption can enrich families and communities. I'm thankful Mr. Charles took the time to come to Capitol Hill and share his story with me today, and I look forward to seeing more redemption stories like his unfold. #FirstStepAct pic.twitter.com/GgXZqpKHEp
— Rep. Doug Collins (@RepDougCollins) January 29, 2019
Matthew Charles is a beneficiary of the #FirstStepAct sentencing reforms that I authored with @ChuckGrassley, and I was honored to have the opportunity to meet him today. There are thousands more individuals like him who will get a second chance because of this bill. pic.twitter.com/KlmT9QVFFd
— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) January 29, 2019
“Rehabilitation means ready to come out into society and live a law-abiding life,” Charles said. “But the change that happened within me was stronger than just rehabilitation. It changed me personally. It made me want to obey the law and be a better person.”
The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent those of any other individual or entity. Follow Sarah on Twitter: @sarahmquinlan.