Stand Up Virginia held a rally outside the Fairfax County Government Center on Tuesday evening announcing the launch of an effort to recall Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano. About 75 people attended the event, according to Stand Up Virginia President Brenda Tillett, who said she had also heard from supporters who couldn’t attend due to government jobs.
“For the past year, local legislators have failed Fairfax County residents by turning a blind eye to Mr. Descano’s blatant disregard of state law, which is intended to protect victims and their families,” a Stand Up Virginia press release states.
The organization alleges that Descano has improperly prosecuted cases including child pornography, sexual assault of minors, domestic violence, elder abuse, and animal abuse. In 2020, Descano told the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors that his staff was overworked and underfunded, and described a state of crisis, according to Tysons Reporter.
“We don’t have the time to do the cases properly,” he said, according to the Tysons Reporter. “The only way to give us more time is to add more staff. The reason we need this is without time, bad things can happen.”
Tillett told The Virginia Star that Descano’s office is failing to support victims in court cases, leaving victims to face judges and defense attorneys without prosecutors present. She said that some of the funding Descano has requested from the county wouldn’t pay for more prosecutors, and noted that Descano and two of the top staff in his office earn high salaries without prosecuting cases themselves.
Descano is one of the members of the Virginia Progressive Prosecutors for Justice, which has announced new policies that include not prosecuting certain kinds of cases. He has said he will not seek cash bail for non-violent offenders.
Tillet said the non-profit started last year to support law enforcement officials, and later expanded their advocacy to include children’s education and calls for election integrity. They’re also watching other Commonwealth’s Attorneys in Virginia with similar practices.
To recall Descano, Stand Up Virginia needs to get 30,000 signatures from registered Fairfax voters — 10 percent of the amount that voted in Descano’s original election. Tillett said that means they probably need to collect double that number to be safe. Tillet said there’s no deadline, but the non-profit is trying to move fast, developing a network of volunteers, and has plans to host more rallies.
Tillet said, “Our goal is to get this done as quickly as possible, because every day that passes is another day that a child, or an elderly individual, or an abused woman or man is being thrown away by Steve Descano.”