Former Inmate Matthew Charles Moves to New Apartment After Help From Kim Kardashian
Matthew Charles loves his new apartment.
Matthew Charles loves his new apartment.
There's a bathroom he's fixed up, a place for his grandchildren to sleep, and although there’s nothing in his bedroom yet, he's starting to feel settled already.
And he has a special someone to thank.
"A big thank you to Kim Kardashian West for being able to help me get this situated, as I get the keys to this place and put some furnishings in the place as opposed to doing it the way I would've initially had to do it," Charles told InsideEdition.com this week.
Charles is an ex-con who spent more than 20 years in prison for selling crack cocaine. After reading about his difficulty finding a home because of his ex-con status earlier this year, Kardashian West reached out to offer to pay his rent for the next five years, as well as act as a reference for any property owners.
Still, he struggled to find somewhere he could live. That’s where another kind stranger stepped in — a realtor who's a friend of a friend.
"Through some of her leads and contacts, [the realtor] wound up finding three different places," he said. "This was one of those places."
His new home is a few minutes from downtown Nashville, just where he’d hoped to be. Before help from the realtor friend, the only places available were further away and far from ideal.
"I was like, 'Wait a minute, you trying to tell me with a felony conviction you can’t live in Nashville anymore?'" he said. "It also was the fact that some of the places that were probably affordable or available were in areas and environments that you really don’t want a person who is having a fresh start to live in."
But the friend helped him with the paperwork and the place became his a few weeks ago. This week, he's felt more at home. "It’s all coming together lovely," he said.
Charles' ordeal began in 1995, when he was arrested for selling crack cocaine in Tennessee and sentenced to 35 years in prison.
In 2010, President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act. It reduced the disparity in sentencing guidelines for possessing crack cocaine and powder cocaine, ultimately lessening Charles' sentence by 18 years. That law laid the groundwork for a judge to release Charles in 2016, after he spent two decades in prison.
But in late 2017, Charles' original sentence was reinstated and he returned to prison in May 2018.
"I had been rehabilitated," Charles told InsideEdition.com in an earlier interview. "I was out 2 1/2 years, working successfully, volunteering my time, had a church home. I was doing everything that you would want somebody that has been incarcerated and released to do."
The same month Charles was ordered back to prison, Kardashian West met with President Trump regarding the First Step Act, which lets judges retroactively apply drug sentencing reforms laid out in the Fair Sentencing Act. Kardashian West had already been lobbying on behalf of others in similar situations, such as Cyntoia Brown and Alice Johnson.
In December, Trump signed the act into law. On the third day of 2019, Charles was free again.
This week it emerged that Kardashian West hopes to be a lawyer and aims to take the bar exam in 2022.
"I think that by her having celebrity status, being well known and well-liked, that's gonna help the cause for those that are incarcerated," Charles said this week.
He now has a full-time job, traveling the country working as a criminal justice reform advocate. He also volunteers at a local pantry and wants to help fight the homeless problem in Nashville. "That's my heart," he said.
"At the moment, I’ve been given the platform to speak about criminal justice reform. I thank God for opening that door, I thank God for the ears of those that are listening and being genuine in the conversations that I’m having with them," he said.
He still hasn't met Kardashian West but hopes to one day.
"As far as her stepping up and doing as she has stated as she would ... she definitely did that," he said.
"Initially, I’ve gotta start from scratch. But I got a great start."
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