Tyler Perry Studios To Host Conviction Integrity Unit Commencement, Honor Exonerated Men

Jan 8, 2020

The Fulton County District Attorney's Office will honor two men at Wednesday night's commencement for the state's first Conviction Integrity Unit.

The unit gives victims of wrongful imprisonment a new chance to have their voices heard.

The Conviction Integrity Unit will re-examine questionable convictions, and Fulton County District Attorney Paul L. Howard Jr. announced last year that the Wayne Williams/Atlanta Child Murders case will be the first to undergo an in-depth review.

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Both Jimmie Gardner, who serves on the board of the Georgia Innocence Project, and Yusef Salaam, one of the "Exonerated Central Park Five" now live in Georgia. The two men will be recognized for their efforts in advocating for prison reform and inmates' rights after serving time in prison for crimes they did not commit.

At Gardner's 1990 criminal trial, a West Virginia state trooper and chief serologist for the Division of Public Safety knowingly presented false testimony which resulted in Gardner's guilty verdict.

Gardner was exonerated after serving 27 years in prison. He said he welcomes Fulton County’s efforts.

“If there had been a conviction integrity unit, they would have immediately spotted my case and I would have had an opportunity to be heard in court.”

Andrew Young Jr., a former member of Congress, mayor of Atlanta and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, will give the keynote speech at Tyler Perry Studios Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m.