Watch: Freed After 20 Years in Prison, but Now the Government Wants to Send Him Back

Matthew Charles was released in 2016 after being incarcerated for more than 20 years. But now the Justice Department wants to send him back to prison.


In 1996 he was sentenced to 35 years to life for distribution of crack cocaine and possession of a firearm. After the Obama administration reduced the sentencing disparity between crimes involving crack cocaine and powdered cocaine, a federal judge shortened Charles’ sentence. But the government now claims that Charles qualifies as a “career criminal,” thus making him ineligible for a reduced sentence. He also served five-and-a-half years for earlier offenses.

During the past year and a half, the 57-year-old Nashville, Tenn., native has committed himself to work, family and charity. Currently he is on his way to getting a commercial driver’s license, volunteering weekly at a local food pantry and even settling into a serious relationship. Charles also spent time with his grandchildren for the first time this past Christmas.


Though he has clearly been rehabilitated and never received one disciplinary infraction during his two-decade-long prison term, his sentencing hearing was scheduled for Jan. 4. The judge postponed and asked the prosecution to consider dropping the case. They have until the end of January to respond. Charles remains hopeful.

Watch the video above to learn more about his story.

Video Producer @ The Root

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Jesus. Guy does 20 years for probably selling way less drugs than Tim Allen did back in the day, actually gets rehabilitated and it’s still not good enough for some D.A? Don’t they have more important shit to work on?