First Prisoner Released By Trump's 'First Step Act' Attends State of the Union
A man who became the first prisoner to be released under President Trump's First Step Act was a guest at Tuesday night's State of the Union address.
The president explained during his speech that after being sentenced to 35 years for selling crack cocaine and other offenses, Matthew Charles was released early last month.
Charles said Wednesday on America's Newsroom that being a guest of the president's Tuesday was "a remarkable time."
"It was something I'll remember for the rest of my life. In my 52 years of living I've never experienced anything like it," he said.
According to the White House, Charles found God while in prison "completed more than 30 bible studies, became a law clerk, taught GED classes and mentored fellow inmates."
Trump described the First Step Act Tuesday as a chance for nonviolent offenders to "reenter society as productive, law-abiding citizens."
The law, which is short for the "Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act," assesses the risk of incarcerated individuals to re-offend, and also provides them with incentives to engage in recidivism reduction programs.
Charles said Wednesday that he was ecstatic over the bipartisan support the law received, and that it was remarkable to watch Trump sign the law.
"If [people] actually change and take advantage of the opportunities that lie before them, society will give them a second chance," he said. "They will walk beside them hand-in-hand if they're willing to take the advantages of those opportunities that lie before them."
Charles said that he believes 70 percent of people incarcerated have been over-sentenced, and that nearly half of that group have changed like he did.
He said that he looks forward to continuing to be a voice for criminal justice reform and to help the poor, the homeless and single-parent families.
Watch the interview above.