Jan 03, 2019

Matthew Charles’ Impending Release from Prison Means Justice Has Been Served

Post by Geoff Holtzman

Arlington, VAMatthew Charles, a Nashville, TN resident who served 21 years in prison, was released in 2016, but was then sent back to prison last year on a technicality, is finally going home.

Today, United States District Judge Aleta A. Trauger granted Charles’ request for a reduced sentence under the recently-passed First Step Act which allows certain ex-drug offenders like Charles to apply for resentencing. “The defendant having already served the sentences imposed on the other counts in this case, is entitled to immediate release,” Judge Trauger wrote.

Freedom Partners Chairman Mark Holden issued the following statement:

“Matthew Charles was sent back to prison last year not because he was a threat to public safety, but due to a technicality in the law. In fact, following his initial stint behind bars, Matthew Charles had completely transformed his life to become a model citizen who was making the most of his second chance. He didn’t belong back in prison – he had earned the right to be free.


“Today, justice has been delivered, as a judge has decided to release Matthew Charles from prison. This is largely due to the hard work of Charles’ public defender and the bipartisan First Step Act. It also shows the importance of providing defendants with their constitutional right to counsel and equipping them with a second chance after they are sentenced. We look forward to others like Matthew Charles being given opportunities to redeem themselves and make a positive impact on our communities.”

Holden spoke out when Charles was sent back to prison last year. “You talk about a guy who did everything he was supposed to do while in prison, he turned his life around. Then he gets out, and he’s been leading a great life and just doing all the things you want to see someone do, but now he’s heading back to prison. It doesn’t make any sense. By the letter of the law, they got it right, but it’s completely unjust,” Holden said.

Holden also attended a meeting at the White House last year with advocates like Kim Kardashian West and Georgetown University Law Professor Shon Hopwood who discussed clemency for Charles and others like him who had earned a second chance.