Tennessee Businessman and Former Convict Says a Pardon from Donald Trump Could Complete His Path to Redemption


Writer’s Note: This is the first of a three-part series about Madison, Tennessee resident and businessman Robert Sherrill, who seeks a federal pardon from U.S. President Donald Trump for past federal drug offenses.

Robert Sherrill, a 37-year-old Madison resident, today is a successful businessman who works with at-risk children and runs a local company with nearly $1 million in revenue.

But Sherrill can’t get a much-desired business loan. This, because of a past drug-related felony.

Former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam granted Sherrill a pardon at the state level. But a pardon from U.S. President Donald Trump would qualify him to receive the loan he needs. A federal pardon would also qualify his full-service janitorial business for federal contracts.

Sherrill has come a long way from his days growing up in what he calls Nashville’s 37208 area code, which he said has some of the nation’s highest incarceration rates.

“I was a regular kid until about 7. When I turned 7 my mom and my step-dad divorced, and we ended up moving to the projects. I didn’t know it was the projects at the time. I just thought it was some apartments. As weeks and months went by, what I didn’t know was that my mom had experimented with drugs. When we moved to the projects it became readily available to her, more than previous. She started to use more frequently, and, in that, got addicted to drugs really bad. And with that came neglect. Not that she meant to neglect us. When you’re on drugs and you’re sick, when you’re diseased, you can’t really help yourself,” Sherrill told The Tennessee Star.

“So when I was 13 I was coming home from school, and I noticed all of our stuff was sitting out on the side of the road. There was no one there to pick me up, so I walked to my grandmomma’s house. From then on I was on my own.”

Sherrill said he slept in cars.

He said he slept in crack houses.

More or less, Sherrill said he raised himself.

“I didn’t go back to school. I didn’t make it out of the ninth grade. And, so, when that first family breaks down you find another family. The gangs became my family. I indulged in a criminal lifestyle. I became good at selling drugs,” Sherrill said.

“With that, I rose through the ranks and became a big drug dealer, selling kilos at wholesale. After that I got busted by the feds. I ended up doing five years in prison.”

Sherrill said his path to redemption started more than 10 years ago. Redemption came during, of all places, his bus ride to the federal prison facility in Forrest City, Arkansas. While there, he served time with some of the nation’s most infamous inmates and witnessed horrors he never thought possible. Also, while there, he reevaluated his life — and, as The Star will explain in part two of our three-part series, vowed to do better.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]









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