Steve Descano has a plan to bring criminal justice reform to Fairfax County

By Steve Descano:

Candidate for Commonwealth’s Attorney in the Democratic primary on June 11

Since the 1960s, Fairfax County’s criminal justice system has been led by the mistaken notion that “tough-on-crime” policies reduce criminal behavior and improve outcomes for our community. Instead, these policies harm our neighbors and perpetuate a cycle of decreased opportunity, increased poverty, and increased crime.

The leader of this system, the elected Commonwealth’s Attorney, has extraordinary power to break this cycle. The Commonwealth’s Attorney sets the policies and procedures for the dozens of prosecutors who are in court every day. The Commonwealth’s Attorney is an elected position because working with the community is supposed to be a key aspect of the job. You should know the vision and values of your Commonwealth’s Attorney.

I am running to be Fairfax County’s next Commonwealth’s Attorney to reform our criminal justice system, implement a holistic approach to get to the root causes of crime, and ensure that systemic discrimination based on race, wealth, and zip code is a thing of the past. And I have the plan to accomplish these goals, Progressive Justice. I encourage you to read my 20-page, fully footnoted plan; but let me summarize my major policy objectives.

Our criminal justice system should be guided by our progressive Fairfax County values of community, equality, and justice. In Progressive Justice, I lay out how I plan to bring an end to mass incarceration, where people of color are disproportionately represented, by doing things such as dismissing cases of marijuana possession and by only treating thefts valued over $1500 as felonies. I plan to end the use of cash bail because it punishes the poor simply for being poor. And I have made a pledge to end all voluntary collaboration with ICE, because no one’s immigration status should create disparate impacts that can tear families apart.

I often think, in 2019, it is inconceivable that our neighbors of color, immigrants and those with lower incomes often face a different justice system than I would. The values of Fairfax County are simply not reflected in our current Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office. This is because we have had only two Commonwealth’s Attorneys since 1967 and there has not been a primary for the position since 1963.

It’s time for a change. The status quo is no longer enough. Truthfully, it hasn’t been enough for a long time. We are lucky to live in such a diverse community and we owe it to our neighbors to build a criminal justice system that reflects that diversity and is equitable for everyone. I hope you will support me in the June 11th Democratic Primary.

Summary bio: Steve Descano is a graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point, veteran of the US Army, and former federal prosecutor under the Obama Administration. Steve has been active in progressive and Democratic politics, including as a Board Member of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, member of the Fairfax County NAACP’s Criminal Justice and Legal Redress Committees, and was nominated by the NAACP to serve as an inaugural member of the Fairfax County Police Civilian Review Panel. Steve currently lives in Burke with his wife, Ryanne, and their daughter, Charlotte.