AFP/AFF Speaker Series (Conversation with Matthew Charles Story)

November 9, 2019 1:30 PM - 4:00 PM

UNM Law Library Room 2402

117 Stanford Drive Northeast , Albuquerque,

Join AFF and AFP on November 9 for our Speaker Series featuring a presentation by Matthew Charles. Matthew Charles is the first beneficiary of the First Step Act. In 1996, he was sentenced to 35 years in prison for felony drug and firearm violations in Tennessee. He’d served 21 years when the sentencing guidelines changed to address the disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentences. In 2016, Matthew filed a petition based on the change in the guidelines. He was released after a federal judge ruled that he should benefit from the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act, a law that reduced sentences for crack-related crimes.

In May of 2018, an appeals court reversed the judge’s decision, and Matthew was forced to return to prison. He had turned his life around and had been free for a year-and-a-half when it was ruled that he had to serve the remaining 10 years on his sentence.

Matthew’s case made national headlines and sparked calls for clemency. On Jan. 3, 2019, he was released once and for all as a result of the passage of the First Step Act. The First Step Act, which was signed into law in December of 2018, included a provision to apply the Fair Sentencing Act retroactively, which the government agreed would allow for Matthew’s immediate release.

Matthew was acknowledged in President Trump’s remarks at the 2019 State of the Union Address, which he attended as the guest of the first lady, Melania Trump.

His case has been covered by USA Today, NPR, the New York Times, Dana Perino, and more. He is currently working as a justice fellow for FAMM— a position that allows him to travel around the nation sharing his story and ideas concerning the need for criminal justice reform.

Join us as we hear more about Matthew’s compelling story. Doors open at 1:30 pm and food and drink will be provided.