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The Curious Case of Matthew Charles; Why Conservatives and Liberals are Calling on Trump for Help

06-02-2018

President Trump seems to be in the pardoning mood; issuing five pardons since he took office.

The president has a soft spot for those he deems have been treated unfairly, regardless of party lines.

Take for instance his latest pardon, commentator Dinesh D’Souza, who pleaded guilty to breaking campaign finance laws. D'Souza said he was targeted for his conservative opinions. The president said D’Souza was,” treated very unfairly by our government.”

He also hinted at pardons for former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and television host Martha Stewart.

"I think to a certain extent, Martha Stewart was harshly and unfairly treated,” said Trump.

Now, advocates for criminal justice reform are calling on the president to take a look at Matthew Charles.

Never heard of him?

While Charles isn’t famous in political or entertainment circles, he’s made a name for himself in Nashville, Tennessee.  

He volunteers at a local food pantry every week. He’s a grandfather, an employee and apparently a fan of Shoney’s.

But he wasn’t always a model citizen he admits. Charles was arrested in the 80’s for domestic abuse and again in 1996 for selling crack cocaine to a police informant.

According to Nashville Public Radio, during his time behind bars he became a law clerk and was a model inmate teaching other inmates to read, even organizing prison Bible studies. 

He was released in 2016 after serving 21 years of a 35 year sentence. 

During that time he found a job and stayed out of trouble.

But earlier this year, a federal court determined his release was due to a technical error and Charles was sent back to prison for another ten-years.

NPR chronicled his last days as a free man. Charles told the publication that whatever the outcome, God is in control.

“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,” he said.

Now, a Change.com petition is pleading with the president to grant Mr. Charles clemency and commute the remainder of his sentence. That petition has more than 32,000 signatures.

Charles’ attorney Shon Hopwood, a former inmate himself, tells CBN News he is also appealing to the president. 

"We will be filing a clemency petition on his behalf and I hope that President Trump will give him a second chance by commuting Matthew’s sentence to time served," Hopwood tells CBN News.

"Matthew Charles has proven that he is deserving of a second chance. He was out for two years and did everything we’d want from someone coming out of a long prison sentence, including that he volunteered every weekend," he continued. 

Charles' case also garnered the interest of conservatives and liberals alike. 

Columnist Katherine Timpf of National Review writes, ”Certainly, this case demonstrates some of the failures of our current criminal-justice system — particularly with mandatory-minimum sentencing. Every case is different, and every person is different.”

“Forcing a man like Charles through the rigors of prison life for another decade would be a complete injustice after he’s done so much work to turn his life around,” she continued. 

“We just implored @realdonaldTrump to commute the sentence of #MatthewCharles in the name of justice on @BensonandHarf. Powerful story,” tweeted Fox News Contributor Guy Benson. 

Members of Congress are also speaking out on his behalf. 

“Power to pardon or commute sentences can be used to right injustices, like Matthew Charles who served twenty years and is being sent back to prison over a technicality. Or ... it can be used for a fellow TV personality convicted of obstruction of justice,” charged Congressman Adam Schiff, D-CA.  

As the cries for Charles' release grow, it continues a juxtaposition for Trump.

He prides himself on being a “law and order” president; but at the same time, he's repeatedly said he is open to giving offenders a second chance.  

 

 

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