Matthew Charles, A Story of Redemption & Need for Reforms

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by Mike Sparks

Webster defines Redemption as: the act, process, or result of redeeming something or someone: such as the act of making something better or more acceptable.

I had the opportunity to meet and have lunch with Matthew Charles and listen to his personal story of redemption. If you’re not familiar with Matthew’s story he was one of the first prisoners released under a sweeping criminal justice reform law signed by President Donald Trump thanks to a federal judge’s ruling.

I pondered what it would be like to spend 21 years in prison. I’m not sure I would have the same positive spirit that Matthew has. Both his parents died while he was in prison. I asked him what Kim Kardashian was like in person and if she seemed sincere. He responded, “Oh definitely, she’s a little shorter than what I expected?”

Needless to say he spoke very fondly of President Trump, unlike our mainstream media did for the past four years. I have a strong feeling that President Trump will soon be missed as I just paid $2.27 cent gas and see increasing job losses.

Matthew’s story gained national attention in 2018 after being re-sentenced and ordered to return to prison two years after a judge ruled his sentence was unfair.

However, U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger on Thursday reduced Charles’ sentence to time served.

“I’ve just been praying and hoping that this day would come,” Charles said. “And it has come. And it’s a remarkable feeling.”

Trauger specifically cited the First Step Act as the reason the 52-year-old Charles was entitled to immediate release.

 Matthew was released from the Grayson County Detention Center  in January 2019, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

‘I refused to be bitter or angry,said Matthew Charles.

President Donald Trump signed the law Dec. 2, 2019. The efforts seeks to reduce recidivism among federal prisoners.

US President Donald Trump (C) is awarded the Bipartisan Justice Award by Matthew Charles (R), who was released from federal prison through the First Step Act, prior to delivering remarks at the 2019 Second Step Presidential Justice Forum in Columbia, South Carolina on October 25, 2019. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

The Need for Criminal Justice Reforms

The First Step Act also reduces guidelines for crack offenses and made those changes retroactive.
Matthew and I discussed the need for improvements to our criminal justice system and the need for reaching young lives to help prevent them from entering the system and costing taxpayers over a billion dollars-which is a Conservative issue.

The need for education, job training, drug and mental health treatment, sentencing reforms and the need for fathers and mentors to be involved in young people’s lives.


Importance of Mentors

I had the opportunity to share with Matthew about my neighbor and mentor former Smyrna Police Chief Sally Walls and her looking out for many of us growing up. Her and her husband the late major James F. Walls assisted many of us in Smyrna by giving us a job, taking us swimming and work odd jobs around their house and the three acres behind their home.

I shared with him the story of when i was a young 17-year old and being ‘setup’ by a Smyrna cop. I took the ticket to Sally. (back then many Smyrnians took their tickets to Sam Ridley, maybe one or two to Sally). I was 17 and explained to her I wasn’t guilty and what the officer did. She responded, “That guy is a Bad Cop.” The police officer was later fired for misconduct a few years later.

I showed Matthew the ‘Tennessee book of lobbyists‘ and told him, “there are no lobbyist for these issues”(well, other than…Tori Venable, Raul Lopez, Tommy Vallejos).
The book is roughly 68 pages with five people per page.

Smyrna Police Chief Sally Walls, Sally was the first female police chief in our state

(I can’t make this stuff up.) Our prison budget is close to $1.100,000,000 ($1.1 billion) and growing.
What if we intervened in people’s lives and invested on the front end-possibly if we had ‘lobbyist’ and advocates we could save countless lives and tax dollars. Fortunately, I had Sally Walls who was that advocate. Sadly, Sally passed away last Summer. Many thanks to the family for asking me to speak at her funeral.

 Kim Kardashian Steps Up

According to Harpers Bazaar Magazine, Kim Kardashian has become an unexpected supporter in the fight for prison reform and is helping former inmates tackle negative stigmas they may face after they’re released from jail.

  • When she found out that Matthew Charles, a former inmate who spent 21 years in prison, was denied an apartment due to his prior record, Kardashian stepped up to pay five years worth of rent and act as Charles’ personal reference.
  • Even with Kardashian’s financial support, Charles was still denied the opportunity to rent, so she utilized her massive Twitter following to help him find a housing opportunity.
  • Charles announced on his Facebook profile that he finally rented an apartment and thanked his supporters, especially Kardashian and husband Kanye West. He noted that the single key in his Facebook status is the key to his new home. To read full story visit: https://www.harpersbazaar.com/celebrity/latest/a26855069/kim-kardashian-paying-former-prisoners-rent/