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When the Obama Administration changed the guidelines for sentencing drug offenders for crack cocaine, it opened up a number of cases to be reduced, allowing some offenders to appeal their cases and be released early. Matthew Charles, a resident of Nashville, Tennessee had originally served 21 years of a 35-year sentence for selling crack cocaine to an undercover informant in 1996. He was later released, allowed to restart his life and become a model citizen.

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Now he has to go back to prison after the US Attorney’s office appealed the ruling, calling him a “career offender.”

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“The whole thing pisses me off to be honest,” Charles’ friend John Hairston told Nashville Public Radio. “But it underscores how big a need there is for some reform in the justice system. I don’t care what they say.”

Since his release, Charles studied to get a GED and became a law clerk who helped other inmates understand their cases long after the public defender system had discarded them. Since his release he has held a job, volunteered in the community, build relationships with his family and girlfriend. Even while he was in prison, he never had a disciplinary infraction, not one. He even organized bible study courses and helped inmates who were illiterate with their own cases to help them from feeling embarrassed or ridiculed.

What a shame.

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Federal Court Rules Black Man Must Return To Prison After Already Serving 21 Years was originally published on

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