A Tennessee man is headed back to prison after a federal court ruled that his early release two years ago was actually an error.
Matthew Charles was released from prison early in 2016 after a sentence reduction based on new guidelines that were passed by the Obama administration. By then he had spent 21 years of a 35-year-sentence in prison for selling crack to an informant.
But the federal government is now claiming that the new guidelines did not apply to Charles’ sentence because he was considered a “career offender” due to a prior prison sentence. As a result, authorities have successfully appealed his release.
“It was like a 180 from what I had thought would happen. I’m just disappointed, again,” he said outside the courtroom.“But I believe that God is still in charge of the situation. He hasn’t revealed to me what he’s doing yet, but my faith remains the same.”
According to Nashville Public Radio, Charles has been a model citizen since his release. He “has held a steady job. He volunteers every Saturday, has reconnected with his family and started a serious relationship.” He was also a model prisoner, having taught GED classes to other inmates, enrolled in college classes and helped his fellow inmates with their legal troubles.
The appellate judge who ordered Charles back to prison said that “her hands were tied” while also admitting that Charles had rehabilitated his life in an exemplary manner.
A Change.org petition has been launched requesting the Trump administration pardon Charles. He is back in a medium security prison in Kentucky to serve the final 14 years of his sentence.