Darrell Hall was serving a life sentence for cocaine possession before Fulton DA CIU stepped in
Atlanta—On Wednesday, January 8, 2020, the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office and District Attorney Paul L. Howard, Jr. officially announced the commencement of its Conviction Integrity Unit, the first in the Southeastern United States in a DA’s Office. During the inaugural reception at Tyler Perry Studios, the first defendant to be released from prison as a result of the work of the Fulton DA’s Conviction Integrity Unit received a surprise job offer from Tyler Perry Studios.
In Fulton County in 1991, Darrell Hall was convicted of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. Hall was in possession of a minimal amount of cocaine which equaled the size of two sugar packets; however, it was Hall’s second felony offense, so Georgia law required that Hall be sentenced to life in prison. Today, under Georgia law, Hall would have been afforded the opportunity to complete Fulton County’s Drug Court Program.
As a result of the formation of the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office Conviction Integrity Unit, and the hiring of its Director Aimee Maxwell, District Attorney Howard asked that Director Maxwell review sentences that under today’s laws would be considered unfair and unjust. Through the course of that review, Director Maxwell discovered that Hall was the only Fulton County prison inmate who was serving a life sentence for a drug offense. District Attorney Howard instructed Director Maxwell to find a course of action that would allow the Conviction Integrity Unit to modify Hall’s sentence. The matter was presented to Fulton County Superior Court Judge Henry Newkirk who ultimately vacated Hall’s sentence and resentenced him to time served.
Hall was released from prison in December and was able to spend the holidays with his family. Hall was introduced during Wednesday night’s Fulton County District Attorney’s Office Inaugural Conviction Integrity Unit Reception. During his introduction, District Attorney Howard informed Hall that in addition to his freedom, Tyler Perry Studios and Mr. Tyler Perry agreed to offer Hall a job so he can rebuild his life and move forward as a productive citizen of Fulton County.
Mr. Hall is the first individual to benefit from the creation of the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office Conviction Integrity Unit. The Conviction Integrity Unit consists of a Director (Aimee Maxwell) and Investigator Trina Swanson-Lucas. Professor Melissa Redmon, the Prosecutorial Justice Program Director for the University Of Georgia School Of Law, will serve as the unit’s Lead Consultant. Cases will be evaluated by a Review Board made up of five individuals including, Michael Lash who is a citizen advocate, Richard Rose who is the President of the Atlanta Chapter of the NAACP, Nazeera Dawood who is a Fulton County leader and activist, Bettieanne Hart who is a former Fulton County District Attorney’s Office Deputy District Attorney, and Kate Boccia who is the Chief Executive Officer of the National Incarceration Association.
The Conviction Integrity Unit endeavors to review past convictions for credible claims of actual innocence, wrongful conviction, and, where feasible, sentencing inequities. This process is afforded to applicants regardless of whether they are pro se or represented by an attorney. The CIU is committed to ensuring all submissions receive a thorough and equitable review. The FCDA CIU will review five types of cases which include claims of actual innocence, claims of constitutional violations, in the interest of justice, sentence modification, and cases of historical significance.
Anyone who wishes to submit an application for review to the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office Conviction Integrity Unit should do so by contacting its Director Aimee Maxwell at 1-833-432-7285 or firstname.lastname@example.org.