Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive

Wednesday, February 6, 2002


HOUSTON - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn today marked the second anniversary of the Texas Exile program by praising prosecutors in Houston for their extraordinary efforts to get guns out of the hands of criminals and gun-using criminals behind bars.

"There is clear evidence that the Texas Exile program is making a difference in Texas communities," Cornyn said. "The message that 'Gun Crime Means Hard Time' is being heard and it is working against armed career criminals."

Cornyn cited the efforts of Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Shannon Voll, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ashley Chapman, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Hileman for helping make Houston the state's most successful for Exile prosecutions.

Texas Exile was announced in December, 1999 and in two years has resulted in 1,280 indictments, 853 convictions and the confiscation of 1,391 guns (through Jan. 15, 2002). The program utilizes existing state and federal gun laws designed to crack down on criminals who illegally use and carry weapons, without infringing on the rights of law-abiding citizens. In Houston alone, Cornyn noted, there have been 328 indictments, 240 convictions and 457 guns confiscated, representing more than 30 percent of the Exile achievements statewide.

"As a result of Texas Exile, and with the leadership of Houston prosecutors, Texas leads the nation in the prosecution of federal gun crimes," Cornyn noted. "In fact, we indict twice as many defendants for violating federal gun laws than any other state."

Cornyn also announced that two new Texas Exile prosecutors will be based in Lubbock and Killeen to concentrate solely on prosecuting criminals who illegally carry guns. The new prosecutors will be funded through a $480,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice and will join Exile prosecutors in Austin, El Paso, Dallas, Houston, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Beaumont and Tyler.

Cornyn noted that the Texas program has been so successful, that it has served as a model for the federal government's Project Safe Neighborhoods. Announced last May by President Bush and U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, it represents a comprehensive national strategy to create local partnerships to effectively enforce existing gun laws and give prosecutors more options to ensure that criminals who commit gun crime face tough sentences.

"Texas citizens and Texas prosecutors can be proud of the great example they have set for the nation," Cornyn said. "Thanks to the work we are doing here, communities all across the country will benefit from tougher enforcement of the law and fewer criminals on the streets."

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