Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive


Monday, May 14, 2001

TEXAS EXILE PROGRAM TARGETS GUN CRIME

Federal government proposes similar nationwide program

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn today announced new figures highlighting the state's crackdown on career criminals who commit gun violence. Since its inception in September 1999, Texas Exile has resulted in 906 indictments and 393 convictions; more than 850 guns have also been confiscated. Judges have handed down sentences averaging 70 months in length.

Texas Exile, a crime-control initiative, uses existing state and federal laws to imprison, or "exile," criminals who are illegally using or carrying firearms. "Texas Exile sends a clear message to convicted felons and drug dealers. If you carry a weapon in Texas, you'll do hard time in federal prison," said Attorney General Cornyn. "We are able to protect law-abiding Texans without infringing on their rights."

The Texas Attorney General's Office has designated 10 special prosecutors to work with local law enforcement and district and county attorneys. Together, they determine which court will give an offender the harshest penalty. If a Texas Exile case goes through the federal system, the offender will not be eligible for probation or parole.

Texas leads the nation in the number of defendants who are indicted in federal court for weapons violations; there were 757 in the year 2000 alone, which is almost double the number of indictments from 1999. This amount is greater than the number of defendants indicted on similar charges in the states of New York and California combined.

"Gun crime means hard time," Cornyn said. "I'm pleased to see that the Justice Department has seen the benefits of exile programs, like ours, and wants to take the concept nationwide. This kind of approach makes use of existing gun laws to protect law-abiding Americans."

The current two-year, $1.8 million grant for Texas Exile comes from the Governor's Criminal Justice Division. Texas Exile prosecutors are based in Austin, Beaumont, Brownsville, Corpus Christi, El Paso, Fort Worth, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Tyler. The state program is modeled after Project Exile, which was developed four years ago by authorities in Richmond, Virginia; Texas Exile is the first to take the concept statewide with the same kind of success.

Texans can learn more about the program by calling 1-800-252-8011; information is also available on the Internet at www.texasexile.com, or at the Attorney General's Web site, www.oag.state.tx.us.

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