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But Matthew Charles says he managed by remembering how far he'd come: more than two decades in federal prison for selling crack cocaine without a single disciplinary infraction and a growing group of supporters pushing for his release after he was released then imprisoned again. Charles, 52, reflected on his journey in a quiet park on the Cumberland River in Nashville five days after a judge ordered him released from prison for the second time in three years.
The new order was made possible by changes to the criminal justice system signed Dec. And it has come. And it's a remarkable feeling. Charles is believed to be the first person released under the new reform law, largely because of a public clamor over his case, which received attention from members of Congress and celebrities including Kim Kardashian West.
A longtime drug dealer from North Carolina, Charles was convicted in of selling grams of crack and illegally possessing a gun. Labeled a "career offender" because of previous convictions involving drugs, weapons, domestic violence, breaking into homes, assault, kidnapping and larceny, he was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
Charles turned out to be a model inmate, authorities said. He organized a Bible study, mentored other prisoners and took college courses to become a law clerk, Nashville Part3 - Charles Matthews - Back In Radio reported in a profile. Charles applied for early release several times, and a federal judge granted it to him in early Part3 - Charles Matthews - Back In out of prison, Charles continued his mission to turn his life around.
He moved to Nashville, got a job as Massive Orange Glow - Various - Songs For A Crimson Eggtree driver and volunteered at a food pantry. He also started dating again, and reconnected with his family. But federal prosecutors fought the judge's ruling. An appeals court agreed that Charles did not qualify for release because he was a repeat criminal offender, and ordered him back to prison to serve an estimated nine more years.
He surrendered to Dig - Woody Herman And His Big Band* - Woodys Gold Star prison in Kentucky last May after two years of freedom. And I did have a year sentence, which was a legal sentence. Outrage over his case sparked calls for President Trump to grant Charles clemency. At the same time, lawmakers and justice-reform advocates were pushing a rewrite of federal drug laws.
The result was the First Step Act, which made retroactive a law easing mandatory-minimum sentences for crack offenses. Prosecutors did not fight the motion, and on Jan. Only after they called to let him know about the judge's ruling did he raise a triumphant fist and tell other inmates. Charles is now trying to piece back together the life he assembled during his last period of freedom.
He plans to resume work as a driver and volunteering at a food pantry, guided by a deep sense of faith sparked by his reading a Bible in jail before his conviction. Charles recognizes that he is seen as a model for "rehabilitated" inmates who will benefit Part3 - Charles Matthews - Back In the new law.
More than 2, crack offenders are now eligible to seek early release under the First Step Act. It changed me personally. It made me want to obey the law and be a better person.
He also has to abide by rules of good behavior under a five-year term of supervised release. Impeachment Inquiry Politics U. Sections U. Follow NBC News. Exclusive: Matthew Charles calls prison release 'unbelievable' Jan. Breaking News Emails Get breaking news alerts and En Neue Rock Und Roll - Maja Brunner - Sfunket! reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
Get a head start on the morning's top stories. Sign Up. Jon Schuppe. Kim Cornett. Michelle Cho. Erik Ortiz contributed.
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