VIDEO: 'God moves miraculously' says first inmate released under ‘First Step Act’
Article By Amber Strong // CBN // EEW Magazine
NASHVILLE, TN – Do you believe in miracles? What about second chances? Matthew Charles certainly does. In less than one month, he went from a jail cell to the State of the Union Address.
That road to Washington, DC, however, includes a criminal past that started in Tennessee.
"In 1995 I was arrested by the US Marshalls for selling crack cocaine in Clarksville, Tennessee and for several gun violations," Charles admitted to CBN News. He was convicted and sentenced to 35 years.
Under old laws, someone convicted of selling 5 grams of crack cocaine faced a mandatory 5 years. It would take 500 grams of powder cocaine for the same conviction. The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 reduced that disparity, and the First Step Act made it retroactive.
But long before this new law was introduced, Charles boarded the bus to prison. As bad as losing his freedom was, something good happened.
"It was in February of 1996 that I confessed Christ and received him as my personal Lord and Savior," said Charles. A friend leaving jail for prison gave Charles a few of his possessions. One of those items was a Bible.
"I just started getting into my comfort zone and my mind based on God and what I was reading and I just started crying like a baby," he recalled.
"I hadn't cried since I was a baby because I had a hard life and I was a hard man," he continued.
But squaring things with the Lord didn't mean absolution from the Feds, so off to prison he went. Over the next 21 years, Charles became a law clerk, a mentor and led prison Bible studies. He also managed to keep himself from a single disciplinary infraction.
Then the good news.
"God moves miraculously. It was in 2016 when US Judge Kevin Sharp granted my reduction of sentence," Charles said.
And just like that, he was headed home early.
But this isn’t the end of the story. He was locked up again, but not because of his wrongdoing. Watch the full story below and see how he gained his freedom for good.