End Project Exile

New York Civil Liberties Union – Genesee Valley, Citizen Action New York – Rochester Chapter, and Enough Is Enough Rochester are calling for an end to Project Exile in Rochester. Project Exile continues in Monroe County despite the fact that most cities have abandoned programs like Project Exile decades ago. Project Exile is a Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump endorsed mass incarceration policy that needs to go [1]. Our current District Attorney Sandra Dorley continues to work with federal prosecutors under Project Exile. It is in Sandra Doorley’s power to end Project Exile and she should.

In 2000, Juma Sampson as a 21 year old was arrested for selling cocaine and a gun was found in the home he was living in. Under Project Exile Juma was sentenced to 25 years, one of the longest sentences under Project Exile in Monroe County history. Juma was shipped off to a prison in Minersville, Pennsylvania.

Project Exile is a voluntary agreement started in 1998 between the Monroe County District Attorney and federal prosecutors to try illegal gun possession cases in federal court. Project Exile was intended to lower gun crime in Rochester. However gun violence rates continue to fluctuate in Rochester. There is no evidence that Project Exile works. From 1998 to 2015, 633 people were sentenced under Project Exile with 3411 total years sentenced [2]

Project Exile is characteristic of the worst of the 90s era “tough on crime” mass incarceration policies:

  • Project Exile sentences people to longer prison sentences through federal mandatory minimums.
  • Project Exile literally exiles those convicted to out-of-state prisons, separating families and making it more difficult for formerly incarcerated people to reenter society.
  • Project Exile disproportionately affects young black males.
  • Project Exile does not address the root causes of crime.

The United States incarcerates more people than any other country, and this has a disproportionate impact on people of color. According to NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services, people of color make up 30% of the population in Monroe County but make up over 80% of the jail and prison population in the county [3]. And a recent report from NYCLU reinforces the perception that law enforcement in Monroe County is guilty of racial profiling [4].

Enough Is Enough, Citizen Action New York, and NYCLU are calling on the District Attorney of Monroe County Sandra Doorley to end Project Exile. In addition, we are calling for serious investment in alternatives to incarceration to address the root causes of gun violence.


  1. https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/jeff-sessions-and-donald-trump-both-back-a-tough-gun-prosecutions-program/
  2. https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/homicide-in-rochester/
  3. https://www.criminaljustice.ny.gov/crimnet/ojsa/comparison-population-arrests-prison-demographics/2018%20Population%20Arrests%20Prison%20by%20Race.pdf
  4. https://www.nyclu.org/en/press-releases/nyclu-analysis-greece-and-irondequoit-police-departments-internal-policies