Fairfax County considers early release of jail inmates during pandemic

Fairfax County, Virginia’s top prosecutor took a bold step toward reviewing who needs to be in the county’s jail in hopes of reducing the number of people confined in a space that could easily become a breeding ground for the novel coronavirus.

“We can do more, and we should do more,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano said in statement Thursday. His office is reviewing whether the county is doing enough in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Along with limiting the defendants coming into the system, Descano said his office will review the case of every individual serving a sentence in jail on a case-by-case basis to determine if they are eligible for early release.

That includes those who are serving a sentence with a release date during Gov. Ralph Northam’s declared state of emergency that is scheduled to end on June 10.

Descano’s office will also review all pretrial decisions made before the coronavirus gripped the region and made a significant impact in people’s lives and the region’s businesses.

“There are two particular values that will always animate this office — to make sure no one falls through the cracks and to make sure this community is kept safe,” Descano said.

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Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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