On Wednesday, District Attorney for Fulton County, Paul Howard, held an event at the Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta to celebrate his office’s new Conviction Integrity Unit.
Hundreds of guests were invited to witness the new unit being revealed.
According to Atlanta News Now, the Conviction Integrity Unit “aims to examine Fulton’s potential wrongful convictions.” The unit also takes a look at different cases where it looks like people may have been required to “serve unfairly long sentences.”
This new unit marks the first of this nature in Georgia.
Darrell Hall, 52, is one of the first individuals to be set free with the new unit in place.
During the ceremony, Howard called Hall on stage to share his story with the public.
“I’m almost ashamed to tell you what he was convicted for,” Howard told those in attendance. “Two grams of cocaine.”
The specific conviction was possession with intent to distribute, Atlanta News Now reports.
Because of this, Hall was given a life sentence in 1991 and served a total of 13 years before receiving parole.
Throughout the years, he’s been sent back to prison twice for violating his parole, and according to Hall, those violations consisted of failing to pay fines and fees.
However, the Conviction Integrity Unit found out about Hall’s case in 2019 and just last month, the DA’s office went to court in order to assist Hall by having his life sentence tossed, Atlanta News Now reveals.
Since being released from prison on Dec. 13, Hall has been having a hard time with the job search, so the DA’s office reached out to Tyler Perry for assistance.
In front of the whole audience, Howard told Hall, “Mr. Perry says you can start to work on Monday.”
“It’s a blessing,” a mind-blown Hall said in reference to receiving a job from Tyler Perry.
While Howard didn’t say exactly what the job was, Hall was more than ecstatic and stated that he didn’t care.
With the new Conviction Integrity Unit, more individuals with stories similar to Hall could be released as well as the unit’s eight-member panel reviews applications.
The unit’s director and Executive director of the Georgia Innocence Project, Aimee Maxwell, spoke highly of the new unit stating, “How many innocent people could be in prison? Prison is bad when you did something to be there. Imagine you are trapped in this prison…and you know you’ve done nothing wrong.”
“We have got to continue to perfect this system,” said Former Atlanta Mayor as well as U.N Ambassador Andrew Young, who was also the keynote speaker of the event. “And We’ve got a long way to go.”