Speaker series a plus for our area
For the last seven years, everyone associated with the Herald-Star Speaker Series has worked hard to ensure area residents had access to quality presentations from noteworthy individuals.
That tradition will continue Wednesday, when we welcome Matthew Charles for his 7:30 p.m. presentation in the Steubenville High School Auditorium.
Charles, who was the first person to be released from prison under the First Step Act, will discuss his experiences and the changes he thinks should be made to the justice system.
His story might be difficult for some people to listen to. In 1996, he was sentenced to 35 years in prison after being convicted of selling crack cocaine while being illegally in possession of a gun. While in prison, he made big changes in his life, completing Bible study courses, mentoring fellow inmates and studying to become a law clerk. He was released from prison in 2016 and continued his transformation, getting a job, volunteering at a food pantry and reconnecting with his family.
Charles was forced to return to prison in May 2018 when a judge ruled that his release had been a mistake. He earned his freedom on Jan. 3, shortly after the First Step Act was signed into law. That act, which passed the House and Senate by wide margins, is aimed at reducing recidivism and promoting rehabilitation.
Today, Charles is stepping up to help others, whether it means serving as a mentor or helping to call for changes in mandatory sentencing requirements. He believes that if a person truly has been rehabilitated while serving his or her sentence, he or she should be able to return to being an active member of society.
Reserved seat tickets for the presentation remain available and can be purchased at the door.
The series continues because of everyone who buys a ticket. The Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times says thanks, as do the series sponsors, which include Trinity Health System, Eastern Gateway Community College, the Franciscan University of Steubenville, the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce and WTRF-TV. Special support is being provided by the Inn and Suites at Franciscan Square, Piergallini Catering, Steubenville High School, Newbrough Photo, Hertz-Thrifty Car Rental and the YWCA of Steubenville.
We welcome Charles to town, and thank everyone involved for ensuring the speaker series can continue to bring quality programs to our community and improve the lives of each of our residents.