In the mid-1990s, Richmond, Va., had become one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. The homicide rate hovered around 50 per 100,000 residents, high enough to place it in the top five deadliest cities. Desperate to curb the violence, the city piloted a controversial program called Project Exile in 1997 intended to more severely punish perpetrators of gun crimes.
Instead of trying cases in state courts, an approach that often led to short prison stays . . .
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