The journey of former inmate Darrell Hall exemplifies the disproportionate impact the War on Drugs has had on communities of color. After serving nearly 20 years behind bars for the possession of a small amount of cocaine, Hall was recently given a unique opportunity by entertainment mogul Tyler Perry that will allow him to reinvent himself and ultimately change the trajectory of his life, CNN reported.
Hall was sentenced to life in prison in 1991 for possessing two grams of cocaine and planning to distribute it. The conviction was Hall’s second felony offense and at the time a Georgia law mandated that a life sentence be rendered. The same crime committed today would require an individual to participate in a drug court program that focuses on rehabilitation.
Cognizant of the inequity, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Henry Newkirk lessened his sentence and he was released in December through a new initiative being led by the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office Conviction Integrity Unit that focuses on examining past convictions that are unjust. The unit—which was established in April 2019—plans on assessing other high-profile cases in Georgia including the arrests of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other demonstrators at an Atlanta store in 1960. After Hall’s release, Perry offered him a job opportunity at Tyler Perry Studios to build a solid foundation for his new life.
Several people in the entertainment industry are using their platform to spread awareness about criminal justice reform. Philadelphia-bred rapper Meek Mill has worked on many initiatives geared towards addressing the flaws within the criminal justice system and changing the lives of those negatively impacted by it. Mogul Jay-Z and rapper Yo Gotti teamed up to help over two dozen Mississippi inmates file a lawsuit addressing dangerous prison conditions.