As most readers know, in recent months, things have been going from bad to worse at a disturbing clip when it comes to LA County probation’s two youth halls, Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall, in Sylmar, CA, and Central Juvenile Hall on Eastlake Ave. northeast of downtown LA.
This week, however, the news about youth probation turned out to be a different nature. On Tuesday, April 4, the county took the unusual step of hiring a brand new person from outside the county system in order to fill a job that previously didn’t exist.
The presumed hope is that said new person will somehow yank the county’s youth probation system back from its present position on the edge of a cliff, where neither kids nor staff feel safe.
The new person’s name is Guillermo Viera Rosa, and he has been hired as “Chief Strategist for Juvenile Operations” for the Los Angeles County Probation Department.
Interestingly enough, from what several of WitnessLA’s sources have told us, Guillermo Viera Rosa may be a good fit for this new post that seems to have been created out of thin air and desperation.
So how bad are things?
So, how desperate have conditions in Barry J Nidorf in particular become?
Let us remind you: In February of this year one kid and one staff member were stabbed. Thankfully, they both recovered. During the same month, five kids overdosed on fentanyl. In each case, a staff member administered NARCAN, and the young people survived. (And these are the overdoses of which we are aware.)
Earlier in February, as WLA reported, the members of the California Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) presented a report showing that Barry J. and Central juvenile halls were extravagantly out of compliance with state regulations when it comes to the most basic standards of care and safety for the young people in residence at the two facilities.
Presumably, not knowing what else to do, late in the afternoon on Tuesday March 7, the five members of the Board of Supervisors responded to the decidedly unsafe-for-anyone conditions in both halls by calling then Probation Chief Adolfo Gonzales into a private meeting, where they fired him, effective immediately.
To take his place, the board selected as the agency’s interim chief, the newly-fired chief’s second in command, Karen Fletcher.
Among the large number of urgent tasks piled on her plate, new Interim Chief Fletcher was responsible for sending, by March 14, a detailed “corrective action plan” to the BSCC outlining LA County’s strategies for fixing the 39 things that were wrong with the two youth halls.
The good news was that, on March 14, 2023, the BSCC received the county’s corrective action plan.
This means that, at approximately 10 a.m. on April 13, next Thursday, the BSCC will vote on whether or not the two youth halls will be declared legally “unsuitable” to house youth.
Oh, and a few days before BSCC’s Penner sent her email, the generally conservative statewide organization known as the Chief Probation Officers of California (CPOC) sent out press release asking state and county leaders to put Los Angeles County’s juvenile facilities, most particularly the county’s two deeply troubled juvenile halls, into “a narrowly tailored” court receivership.
And so, Mr. Viera Rosa.
According to his online bio, the county’s new Chief Strategist for Juvenile Operations has “over 27 years of experience working in the field of corrections and rehabilitation.”
Most recently, he’s been serving as the Director over the Division of Adult Parole Operations for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).
But, we’re told he started his career working with youth, and is good with them. He was up until recently a member of the BSCC. And he is also, according to our sources, unafraid of challenges.
May it be so.
More as we know it.