Inmate released under 'First Step Act' says 'I never believed I would die in prison'

Robert Shipp, 46, is now a free man thanks to the "First Step Act."

July 23, 2019, 6:45 PM

Robert Shipp has spent more than half his life in prison serving a mandatory minimum life sentence for a drug offense in 1993.

As of last Friday, he is now a free man.

Shipp, 46, was one of more than 3,100 inmates released as part of the implementation of the bipartisan 'First Step Act,' passed in 2018.

"I always believed the time would come that I would be free, I never believed that would be my fate, that I would die in prison," Shipp told ABC News Live’s the ‘Briefing Room"

"It is still surreal, every day now I’m trying to learn to adapt, to adjust to my family, being around people," Shipp said.

He called it a "humbling experience" and thanked both President Barack Obama for reducing his sentence in 2015, and President Donald Trump for signing the 'First Step Act' into law last year.

Members of the Congress and guests react after President Donald Trump signed the First Step Act and the Juvenile Justice Reform Act in the Oval Office of the White House, Dec. 21, 2018.
Oliver Contreras/Sipa USA via AP

Kevin Ring, the president of 'Families Against Mandatory Minimums,' told ABC News, "We were not safer as a country by having Robert Shipp spend another day in prison."

"95% of people in prison are going to come back to their communities someday, and the question is do we want them to come back better or worse off," Ring added.

Shipp hopes his release will cast a light on others who are still stuck in the criminal justice system serving mandatory minimums, "There’s many more men and women still suffering under the same guidelines I was under," Shipp said.