WASHINGTON (ABC4 News) – Senator Mike Lee met with a beneficiary of recent criminal justice reform Monday. 

Lee issued the following statement after meeting Matthew Charles, the first prisoner released due to the passage of the First Step Act.

“It was truly an honor to meet Matthew Charles today. Here is a man who served his debt to society, turned his life around, and is already contributing to his family and community. There is still more we can do to make sure our criminal justice system is as fair and humane as possible, and success stories like Mr. Charles will make further reform possible.” 

Matthew Charles was sentenced to 35 years for selling 216 grams of crack in 1996. While in prison he completed 30 Bible correspondence courses, taught GED classes, and helped fellow inmates with their cases. He was released in 2016 after a judge determined he qualified for a sentence reduction under the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act. 

But federal prosecutors appealed his release, eventually sending Mr. Charles back to prison. 

in 2018, Charles was again released by a federal judge citing The First Step Act provisions to eliminating the crack vs. cocaine sentencing discrepancy.