51 year-old ex-felon Matthew Charles was sentenced to federal prison until 2027 after just two years of freedom and zero criminal activity.
Charles was previously convicted of a number of crimes related to his kidnapping of a woman followed by a violent carjacking incident. After serving time for those crimes, Charles was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 1996 for selling crack on the borders of Kentucky and Tennessee near an army base. This is the case that has come back to haunt him today.
In prison, Charles was considered to be an exemplary inmate with no disciplinary infractions. With a clean record, Charles applied for early release in 2010 after President Barack Obama signed a law to lower penalties for crack offenses. Charles received a 14 year reduction to his sentence and was released in 2016.
Once out of prison, Charles began to move forward, leaving his criminal past behind him. He restored his relationship with his family, began volunteering at a soup kitchen, and started a new relationship.
However, prosecutors began to challenge Charles’ early release and in March U.S. District Court Judge sided with the appeals court and renewed Charles’ sentence, sending him back to jail until 2027.
Currently, Charles’ only chance at freedom lies in the hands of President Donald Trump whom Charles’ lawyer Shon Hopwood is urging to commute his sentence.
This news comes to light just days after Trump, in collaboration with TV Personality Kim Kardashian West, commuted 63 year-old Alice Marie Johnson’s sentence for a non-violent drug crime for which she spent over 21 years in federal prison.
Trump’s decision to commute Johnson’s sentence has left him with a list of names belonging to several thousand prisoners, all requesting clemency. There are currently 100 prisoners per 100,000 Americans indicating this list will continue to grow and we will continue to see more stories like Charles’ brought to light. This is just the beginning of a much larger conversation about the American justice system and the rights of prisoners.
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