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Greenbriar East Elementary School (via Greenbriar East/Facebook)

A Greenbriar East Elementary School health aide has been indicted on charges for stealing students’ medication, according to the Fairfax County police.

Former Fairfax County Health Department employee Jennifer Carpenter, 45, of Fairfax falsified documentation on prescription medication she gave students, according to a press release. Carpenter dispensed sugar placebo pills and over-the-counter medicine in place of narcotics — including Ritalin, Adderall, and Focalin — that police believe she was keeping for personal use.

During the investigation, detectives identified seven students at the Fair Lakes area school whose medicine was being abused, police said.

Detectives began investigating on May 27 after a health department supervisor noticed a discrepancy in the amount of medication several students maintained at the school, the release said.

Carpenter was indicted on seven counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor; two separate counts of unlawful possession of controlled substances; one count of obtaining drugs by fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, embezzlement, or subterfuge; and one count of unlawful dispension of a drug in place of another without permission of the person ordering/prescribing.

In a statement, FCPD Criminal Investigations Division Commander Captain Frederick Chambers said:

As parents, we have an expectation that a person in a position of trust will care for our children. When that trust is broken, we can feel betrayed. Thanks to the swift notification of the health department and schools, our detectives were able to immediately begin their investigation when the discrepancy was noticed. We will continue to hold anyone who abuses their position of power accountable for their actions.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Steven Descano called Carpenter’s actions a “gross breach of trust” in a statement.

“This situation could have easily evolved into a medical emergency for any of the children affected,” the statement reads.

If convicted, Carpenter faces a sentence of three to 32.5 years in prison, and up to $25,000 in fines, Descano said.

Police ask anyone with information about the case to call 703-591-0966. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone – 1-866-411-TIPS (866-411-8477), and by web.

Photo via Greenbriar East/Facebook

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Morning Notes

The front entrance to Capital One’s headquarters in Tysons (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

What to Know About Covid Vaccines for Young Kids — If recommended by the CDC and Virginia Department of Health, COVID-19 vaccines will be available from the Fairfax County Health Department with no appointments needed. Parents should contact their medical provider to see if they will carry the vaccines, which may be harder to find at pharmacies due to a state law that prohibits pharmacists from giving vaccinations to kids younger than 3. [FCHD]

Friends Stunned by Fair Lakes Shooting Deaths — “Now those who knew them are left to reconcile the image of three bodies with memories of an outwardly cheerful trio…who seemed to be always up for a boisterous evening out, for the karaoke nights they enjoyed at Fairfax bars, at Fat Tuesday’s and the Auld Shebeen.” [The Washington Post]

Mosaic District Restaurant Helps Worker After Crash — The Greek restaurant Our Mom Eugenia is helping share a fundraiser for an employee after her daughter was critically injured in last week’s fatal crash in Oakton. The business operator says Katya is “doing well” after being hit by a car while walking home from Oakton High School with her cousin and friend. [NBC4]

Annandale House Fire Started by Lights — Fairfax County fire investigators have determined that a house fire in the 3900 block of Terrace Drive on Saturday (June 11) was started accidentally “by an electrical event involving outdoor string lights” on the backyard deck. The fire displaced seven people and caused approximately $125,000 in damages. [FCFRD]

Victim Says County Prosecutors “Pressured” Her Into Plea Deal — “Julie, not her real name, said she’s been traumatized. First, by a manipulating online predator. Then, by the Fairfax County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.” [ABC7]

Prepare for Change at Springfield Town Center — “PREIT CEO Joe Coradino said his eye is on reshaping the property into something that more closely resembles its title as a town center, with a greater mix of uses. The introduction of additional components, including the planned Lego Discovery Center and seven-story hotel will help further that aim, he said.” [Washington Business Journal]

Historic Reston Distillery Gets Spotlight — “Thank you Virginia Department of Heritage Resources for promoting #Reston landmark A. Smith Bowman Distillery on #NationalBourbonDay! Read about the only legal whiskey distillery in Virginia in its day, which operated until the 1950s” [Supervisor Walter Alcorn/Twitter]

Restaurant Crawl Coming to Fairfax City on Saturday — The Old Town Fairfax City Summer Crawl is a timed, self-guided tour through participating restaurants, which will offer exclusive small plates and drinks from their menus. The free event will unfold from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m., letting patrons “support local restaurants…while enjoying a variety of bites and beverages.” [Fairfax City EDA]

It’s Wednesday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 85 and low of 69. Sunrise at 5:44 am and sunset at 8:37 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Route 123 and International Drive in Tysons (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Kingstowne Man Indicted for Real Estate Loan Scheme — Calling it one of the largest embezzlement cases in Fairfax County history, the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office announced yesterday (Monday) that Carlos Camacho has been charged with 15 counts of embezzlement and four counts of forgery. Camacho allegedly used loans to divert more than $2 million from his employer for personal expenses. [DCist]

County Sees Rise in Domestic Violence During Pandemic — “During the first quarter of 2022, our Department of Family Services’ Domestic and Sexual Violence Services (DSVS) division has seen this trend in real time through its Domestic and Sexual Violence 24-Hour Hotline, which has recorded an uptick in the number of domestic violence calls it receives.” [Fairfax County Government]

VDOT to Suspend Highway Work During Memorial Day Weekend — “Based on 2018 and 2019 traffic data, periods of moderate to heavy congestion on those pre-pandemic Memorial Day weekends were most likely to occur between noon and 6 p.m. on Friday and Monday, and midday on Saturday and Sunday, VDOT said in a news release.” [Inside NoVA]

IT Consulting Firm Octo Opens Lab in Reston — “Honored to attend the ribbon cutting for oLab today. With the relocation of groundbreaking companies and the expansion of cutting edge innovation labs in Virginia, we’re going to keep solving problems and making critical breakthroughs right here in the Commonwealth.” [Mark Warner]

Virginia Lawmakers Near a Budget Deal — “State legislators got word Monday that they should return to the Capitol on June 1 to vote on a proposed two-year state budget, even though final details on the spending plan were still being hammered out…Legislators launched the special session in April on his orders but promptly went home because there was no compromise to vote on.” [The Washington Post]

Chantilly Student Collects Medical Supplies and Food for Ukraine — “Nicholas, a student at Fairfax County’s Rachel Carson Middle School, chose to help Ukraine as part of his Eagle Scout project. All donations will be boxed by Nicholas and his fellow Scouts, and then sent to United Help Ukraine, a Maryland-based nonprofit organization founded in 2014.” [Patch]

Deputy Fire Chief Promoted — “Fire Chief John Butler is pleased to announce that Deputy Chief Dan Shaw has been promoted to Assistant Chief with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department. Assistant Chief Shaw will head the Office of the Fire Chief, which includes Data Analytics Management, Fiscal Services, Health and Wellness, Information Technology, Planning, and Public Information and Life Safety Education.” [FCFRD]

It’s Tuesday — Rain in the morning and afternoon. High of 66 and low of 53. Sunrise at 5:51 am and sunset at 8:24 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Fairfax County Chief Public Defender Dawn Butorac at a budget hearing on April 14, 2022 (via Fairfax County)

Fairfax County’s upcoming budget won’t fully resolve funding disparities between public defenders and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.

Instead, county leaders said they’ll continue working with General Assembly representatives to fix funding disparities, where Fairfax County public defenders say they’re underfunded and underpaid.

“I want to acknowledge the request that we received from that office, and I do recognize the ongoing struggle to create parity between their office and the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office,” Lee District Supervisor Rodney Lusk said.

The Board of Supervisors agreed on Tuesday (April 26) to reduce Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office contribution of around $804,000 and funding to add six positions there, changing its local spending of its advertised budget for prosecutors.

Chief public defender Dawn Butorac was unimpressed by the commitment.

“It is incredibly disappointing that the Board continues to gloss over how important we are to the criminal legal system in Fairfax,” she told FFXnow by email. “Their budget decisions demonstrate that the poor and marginalized citizens in this community are not a priority.”

She said the board told her at the budget meeting that they’ve been trying to resolve the pay issues through the General Assembly.

“Many other jurisdictions in Virginia supplement public defender salaries and do so at a rate higher than the 15% supplement in Fairfax,” Butorac wrote. “Several, in fact, have pay parity or are working towards that goal.”

Butorac wanted around $825,000 for her office, up from its current allocation of $525,000. The office also receives $3.9 million in funding from the state.

Last year, the county extended 15% salary supplements for staff in the public defender’s office.

“We must find more sustainable pathways on working with the state to fund the public defender’s office,” Lusk said, noting he’s committed to working with the rest of the board, Butorac, and state legislators on the matter.

Lusk, who chairs the Board of Supervisors’ public safety committee, said he would participate if necessary in a hearing or meeting in Richmond on the issue.

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The Fairfax County Courthouse (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

While Fairfax County regularly makes headlines for its diversion initiatives and other criminal justice reform efforts, an imbalance in funding for prosecutors and defense attorneys remains unaddressed, the local public defender’s office says.

Dawn Butorac, the county’s chief public defender, said her office’s 25 attorney positions are around half the number of lawyers that Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano’s office has, and that gap is only going to worsen if a proposed county budget is adopted without changes this May.

“There are significant disparities between the salaries of an attorney at the same levels in each of our offices,” she said during a budget hearing last Thursday (April 14) before the Board of Supervisors. “It creates an unequal and unfair criminal legal system.”

Butorac said Descano makes over $50,000 more per year than she does.

“We’re asking the board for help so that we can continue to provide the level of service and representation that every person in Fairfax County deserves, regardless of their income,” Andy Elders, deputy public defender, said during another budget hearing, noting that his office is down two attorneys.

Butorac said they take every appointed case and never reject anything. The office represents clients who otherwise would be unable to afford an attorney.

According to budget materials for the upcoming fiscal year 2023, which starts July 1, the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney will have nearly $9 million in expeditures, though actual county spending would be around $6.7 million since the office gets about $2.2 million in supplements from the state.

The advertised budget provides six new positions, including three attorneys, for a total of 84 full-time staffers, 54 of them prosecutors.

Butorac told FFXnow by email that her budget request is for approximately $825,000 in total and that her office currently gets about $525,000 from the county.

State funding also contributes to compensation. Virginia Indigent Defense Commission Executive Director David Johnson said the Fairfax County Public Defenders’ Office received $3.9 million in state funding during the past budget year.

“We can’t take shortcuts to justice, and to do that you have to invest,” Descano said in a statement when asked about the pay between offices. “I am grateful to the Board of Supervisors for its commitment to that investment in the Commonwealth’s Attorney Office as well as the Public Defender’s Office. I look forward to working further with the Board of Supervisors and county leaders to continue supporting the entire criminal justice system in Fairfax County.”

Descano’s office acknowledged the disparity in funding but also said the Board of Supervisors chairman’s office is in a better position to comment, since the board determines the budget.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay argued in a statement to FFXnow that Virginia needs to take more responsibility for funding court-related agencies, including the public defender’s office, whose staff are technically state employees.

Fairfax County provides nearly $96 million in personnel and salary supplements for staff in the court system, including attorneys, clerks, district court employees, and probation office employees, according to McKay, who said that level of funding is “unsustainable.”

“My colleagues and I on the Board have been in constant communication with the Public Defender, as well as the General Assembly, and we’ll continue to work alongside both moving forward to ensure funding for that office and the others mentioned above,” McKay said by email. “At a time like this, when the state has a gigantic, unprecedented budget surplus, it is way past time for it to pay its own bills.”

However, Elders suggested Fairfax County’s supplements for the public defender’s office have fallen behind other jurisdictions in Virginia. Experienced Fairfax County staff have left for Arlington and Prince William counties and Richmond, according to Elders.

“Our clients need all the help they can get,” he said. “We work nights. We work weekends. And we can’t keep up.”

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Morning Notes

A grassy field outside Wolf Trap National Park’s Filene Center (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Annandale Chick-fil-A Opens Today — “Chick-fil-A will open Thursday, April 7, at 7130 Little River Turnpike, Annandale…To celebrate the grand opening, the restaurant will surprise ‘100 local heroes making an impact in Annandale with free Chick-fil-A for a year.'” [Annandale Today]

Starkist HQ in Reston Now OpenRelocating from Pittsburgh, the tuna manufacturer opened its new corporate and administrative headquarters at 1875 Explorer Street in Reston Town Center on Tuesday (April 5). The office can accommodate more than 70 employees, and the company is marking its arrival with a community distribution event for the Reston-based nonprofit Feed the Children. [Starkist]

Commonwealth’s Attorney Expands Diversion for Non-Violent Crimes — “Under the program, called Taking Root, Fairfax prosecutors and defense attorneys can jointly recommend to judges that certain people accused of crimes be assigned to intensive programming instead of being prosecuted…The new program expands on existing diversion programs in Fairfax that have narrower eligibility requirements.” [DCist]

Masks No Longer Required at GMU — “In a message to the school community posted Tuesday, university president Gregory Washington announced GMU had switched to a mask-optional policy on all its campuses. He said the decision reflected low transmission and positivity rates in Fairfax County and nearby communities.” [WTOP]

Great Falls Group Has Ideas for Beltway Bridge Design — “When the construction dust settles, the orange cones are gone and work crews have relocated to snarl traffic elsewhere after completion of the 495 NEXT Project, the Great Falls Citizens Association (GFCA) hopes an extra-nice-looking bridge will take Georgetown Pike over the Capital Beltway.” [Sun Gazette]

Vienna Could Get Specialized License Plate — The Town of Vienna plans to introduce a town-themed license plate after the Virginia General Assembly unanimously approved a bill from Del. Mark Keam letting localities cover the fees for the first 350 prepaid orders required by state law. The law takes effect on July 1, and the town council will then move to decide on a design. [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

Squirrels Trigger Car’s “Check Engine” Light in Franconia — “Craftsman Auto Care — Alexandria, an auto repair shop at the Festival at Manchester Lakes shopping center, found three baby squirrels sleeping under the hood of a customer’s vehicle…As for the check engine light, it turned out that the babies’ mother squirrel had chewed through wiring in the vehicle.” [Patch]

It’s Thursday — Rain until evening. High of 55 and low of 46. Sunrise at 6:45 am and sunset at 7:39 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Despite chilly weather, the sun came out Tuesday, casting shadows from trees at the corner of Jefferson Manor Park off Telegraph Road (staff photo by Brandi Bottalico)

County Libraries to Resume Standard Hours — Fairfax County Public Library will once again open its eight regional branches seven days a week, and its 14 community branches on Mondays, effective this Sunday (April 3). The system truncated its hours starting in January due to the surge in COVID-19 cases and high staff vacancies. [FCPL]

Omicron Subvariant Identified in Fairfax County Patients — “BA.2 is now estimated to be responsible for about one in three COVID-19 infections in the country and one in five COVID-19 infections in Virginia. While BA.2 appears to be more contagious and can spread faster, it is not known to make people sicker.” [Fairfax County Health Department]

County Commonwealth’s Attorney Responds to Miyares Criticism — “The two powerful men have been in a feud for months. Attorney General Jason Miyares is pushing for tough-on-crime policies, while [Steve] Descano campaigned on ending mass incarceration and reforming the criminal justice system.” [ABC7]

“Coming to America” Restaurant Planned for Springfield — “Starting in May, shoppers at the Springfield Town Center can stride through the golden arcs of McDowell’s and order a Big Mick — a burger that is totally different from that other sandwich, thank you very much, because the buns don’t have seeds.” [Washingtonian]

Falls Church Approves Founders Row Part II — “The Falls Church City Council approved yet another large scale mixed use project for its downtown corridor Monday night, by a 5-2 vote giving a final OK to what has become known as the ‘Founders Row 2‘ project that will fill the space at the now vacant Rite Aid and the carpet store at the corner of W. Broad and S. West St.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Congress Members Concerned about Silver Line Phase 2 Delays — “U.S. Reps. Jennifer Wexton (D), Don Beyer (D) and Gerry Connolly’s letter to MWAA came a day after Paul Wiedefeld, the CEO and general manager of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, said unresolved issues…are preventing a declaration of operational readiness.” [Patch]

Capital One Partners with MLB — “McLean’s Capital One Financial Corp. is Major League Baseball’s new official banking and credit card partner. Capital One announced the multiyear deal Monday…Terms were not disclosed, but reports have pegged it as a $125 million deal for MLB over five years.” [Washington Business Journal]

Reston Library to Host First Responders on Saturday — “Join us as we celebrate the brave men and women who rush to emergency situations every day to take action when disaster strikes. Meet our local firefighters as they showcase the equiptment used for respond to emergencies. 11am-2pm at Reston Library.” [FCPL]

Local Students Compete in Special Olympics — “Congratulations to the Madison Special Olympics Unified Basketball Team who competed in their first Special Olympics this weekend at Marshall HS.” [James Madison High School/Twitter]

It’s Wednesday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 56 and low of 36. Sunrise at 6:57 a.m. and sunset at 7:31 p.m. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

American flag blows in wind at Wolf Trap National Park (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

FCPD Officer Found Not Guilty in Taser Incident — “A jury found a Fairfax County, Virginia, police officer not guilty of using excessive force against a man in a June 2020 incident caught on body camera. The officer, Tyler Timberlake, who is white, had faced three misdemeanor assault and battery charges for tasering Lamonta Gladney, who is Black.” [NBC4]

Community Members Rally in Support of FCPS Librarians — “Nearly 70 people participated in a rally to support school librarians March 24 before a school board meeting at Luther Jackson Middle School. At the meeting, several people attacked librarians for supporting LGBTQ students’ rights.” [Annandale Today]

Fairfax County Plea Deal for Shootings Suspect Scrutinized — Recently arrested for allegedly shooting five homeless people, Gerald Brevard III previously faced charges in Fairfax County for assaulting a hotel worker and breaking into an apartment. Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares argues that county prosecutors’ plea deal was too lenient, while Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano says weaknesses in the case meant it was the ‘best outcome’ his office could’ve gotten. [The Washington Post]

Armed Carjacking Reported in Mount Vernon — “Detectives on scene of armed carjacking in 3700 blk of Rolling Hills Ave. 4 suspects described as black men 18-20 yo in dark clothing driving bro Nissan Altima. Suspects displayed firearm, assaulted the victim & took a 2017 gray Toyota Corolla. Call 911 w/info.” [FCPD/Twitter]

Capitals Star Relocates Within McLean — “Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie…and his wife Lauren paid $7.5 million earlier this month for a newly constructed 9,890-square-foot home on Dogue Hill Lane, according to public records. The five-bedroom, eight-bath home is within the exclusive Langley Farms community.” [Washington Business Journal]

Crumbl Cookies to Open Reston Store Friday — “To celebrate the April 1 grand opening of [its] new location in Reston, Crumbl Cookies will be giving away a year’s worth of free cookies to one lucky person.” [Patch]

Tysons Corner Center Announces Spring Events — “Easter festivities have begun as April approaches. Families can get the traditional Easter Bunny photos, and there’s even an adults-only egg hunt…From May to September, shoppers can find events like monthly outdoor movies, game night tournaments, live music and more.” [Patch]

Fire and Rescue Department Wins Charity Hockey Game — “A hard fought 6-2 victory for #FCFRD @FairfaxCountyPD Chief Davis will look good in an FCFRD hockey jersey! Great game for great causes! Fantastic crowd! In the end, #FCPD and FCFRD remain one public safety team!” [FCFRD/Twitter]

It’s Monday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 32 and low of 23. Sunrise at 7:01 a.m. and sunset at 7:30 p.m. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Church Street in Vienna on a winter day (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Where to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day — “St. Patrick’s Day is always an exciting time in the National Capital Region so find fun St. Patrick’s Day events and things to do in Fairfax County, VA and the rest of Northern Virginia and Washington, DC. Whether you’re looking for a quaint local Irish pub to relax in, or a rowdy Irish party to join, you’re bound to find our list of suggestions below a useful St. Patrick’s Day guide to Irishness!” [Visit Fairfax]

No Charges Against Officer in Lorton Shooting — “The commonwealth’s attorney for Fairfax County, Virginia, isn’t going to file charges against the police officer who shot a man in a van in Lorton last month. Michael Vaughan, 34, was shot Feb. 15 in a van on Fitt Court while he was holding a rifle.” [WTOP]

Prominent County Developer Dies — Land-use lawyer and developer John T. ‘Til’ Hazel Jr. on Tuesday (March 15) at 91 years of age in Broad Run. Crucial in shaping Fairfax County, including Tysons and George Mason University, Hazel helped clear land for the Capital Beltway and “went on to develop homes now occupied by 1 in every 10 residents of Fairfax County.” [The Washington Post]

FBI HQ Relocation Search Could Restart — “The omnibus fiscal year 2022 spending bill signed by President Joe Biden this week includes language that would advance the FBI’s selection of a new headquarters location — which it, along with the General Services Administration, had previously narrowed down to Greenbelt, Landover, and Springfield.” [Washington Business Journal]

FCPS Offers New Firefighter Training Program — “Thanks Fox 5 DC for highlighting this unique program and partnership between Fairfax County Public Schools and #FCFRD. Ten alums are now FCFRD career members. Two career elsewhere. Several volunteer firefighters. One attending Naval Academy!” [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department/Facebook]

Herndon Native Stays with NHL Team — “Joe Snively, who grew up and played youth hockey in Herndon, was just re-signed by the Washington Capitals to a two-year, $1.6 million contract. Brian MacLellan, the Caps’ senior vice president and general manager, made the announcement on Wednesday, according to NHL.com.” [Patch]

GMU Reopens Renovated Performing Arts Theater — “After 18 months of renovations, Harris Theatre on George Mason University’s Fairfax campus is once again open for performances…The renovation features an expanded lobby, an updated ticket office, a new entrance near the walking meditation garden and a marquee to announce upcoming performances.” [Sun Gazette]

Tysons Contractor Buys Reston Security Company — “McLean, Virginia-based Booz Allen Hamilton, the largest government IT consulting contractor, continues a recent string of acquisitions by acquiring Reston-based cybersecurity firm EverWatch. Financial terms of the acquisition weren’t disclosed.” [WTOP]

McLean Fire Department to Host Blood Drive — The McLean Volunteer Fire Department will host another blood drive by Inova from 1-5:30 p.m. on March 25. This will be the department’s second blood drive of the year, following one in January that ultimately saw all spots fill up. [McLean VFD/Facebook]

It’s Thursday — Rain in the morning and afternoon. High of 58 and low of 49. Sunrise at 7:18 a.m. and sunset at 7:19 p.m. [Weather.gov]

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The results of Virginia’s 2021 general election could have significant ramifications for local efforts to seek alternatives to jail and other criminal justice reforms, Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano says.

Descano, a Democrat, addressed expectations that his agenda will clash with that of Republican Attorney General-elect Jason Miyares in an online event on Tuesday (Nov. 16) hosted by the McLean chapter of the American Association of University Women, which seeks to promote equity and education for women and girls.

A day after defeating incumbent Mark Herring, who was seeking a third consecutive term as Virginia’s top legal officer, Miyares told reporters on Nov. 3 that he plans to introduce a bill that would let the state intervene in local cases.

“This legislation was inspired by a child rape case in Fairfax County, where a defendant was charged with repeatedly raping and molesting a 5-year-old child and was eligible for a life sentence,” Miyares said in a statement to FFXnow, pointing to a case involving Oscar R. Zaldivar, 53, who received a 17-year sentence through a plea deal.

Despite objections from the families involved, Descano’s office defended the sentence in statements to media after the September hearing as longer than what 75% of defendants in Virginia face for the same offenses.

Prosecutors typically get discretion to determine when to pursue a case based on whether the available evidence is sufficient and other factors. Descano said Miyares’s proposal would turn the legal system on its head.

“He wants the police to be able to sideline a prosecutor who’s inconvenient for them at anytime,” Descano said, adding that Fairfax County is fortunate to have a professionalized police force.

Miyares countered that he would get guidance from Commonwealth’s Attorneys to advocate for a bill that would “invite” the attorney general to prosecute child rape or violent crime cases “when the local prosecutor refuses to prosecute.”

The clash between Descano and Miyares presages the uphill battle that Fairfax County’s mostly Democratic elected officials will likely face over the next few years in trying to work with the n0w-Republican-led state government.

The county started a veterans court in 2015 to provide support systems for service members faced with charges. It then launched a Diversion First initiative in 2016 that offers rehabilitation over incarceration for certain nonviolent offenses. Since then, the county has also created specialized court dockets focused on the needs of people with drug addiction and mental health issues.

According to Census data compiled by the nonprofit The Marshall Project, Fairfax County’s jail population has declined significantly over the past two decades, from 3,749 people in 2000 to 1,207 people in 2010 and 667 people in 2020.

Elected in 2019 amid a progressive surge in Northern Virginia, Descano has implemented many of his pledged reforms, including eliminating cash bail, not holding suspects on nonviolent charges when they aren’t deemed a danger to the community, and enabling prosecutors to take “community values” into account instead of deferring to judges.

He said on Tuesday that the changes are intended to improve fairness in prosecutions.

The Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney also has a data director who is working with researchers from American University and other partners to create a public dashboard with information on how it handles different cases.

Descano says the data will allow for analysis of prosecutors’ decisions, which will help avoid problems, such as unfair treatment based on gender or race.

When asked about the data effort by Aroona Borpujari, a statistician who watched the event, Descano replied that his office will release the data when they have enough of a sample size.

“It’s our pledge that we’re going to be transparent,” he said, describing the office as previously being in the Stone Age.

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