Last night, Monday night, just after 5 p.m., Karen Fletcher, the Interim Chief of LA County Probation, resigned from her position as head of the nation’s largest probation system.
Her last day on the job will be on May 19, Fletcher wrote in her letter to probation staff members.
Sources tell us that the triggering fact for the Interim Chief was the news that the person she had tapped as her second-in-command for youth probation was being moved out of the youth side of the agency, and over to the adult side of the department.
Prior to her resignation, Fletcher had been on the job as Interim Chief for just under two months. She was selected for the position by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors immediately after the board fired former Probation Chief Adolfo Gonzales on Tuesday, March 7, “effective immediately.”
Some wondered at the board’s choice. Former Chief Adolfo Gonzales was an experienced and well-liked reformer, but things went from bad to worse under his tenure.
“And so they hired his second in command, who was running things under him?” said one of WitnessLA’s veteran department sources.
Since March, conditions in the county’s two youth lock-ups, Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall and Central Juvenile Hall, have continued to be less and less safe—for kids, and also for staff.
Although Fletcher and her second in command on the youth side, Felicia Cotton, promised changes, the problems to solve were large and many, and improvements were hard to find under their tenure.
The collective states of mind of staff, youth, and youth advocates were further shaken on Monday night, April 10, when a Supervising Detention Service Officer was stabbed badly in the face and neck at Barry J (as the Sylmar institution is known for short). The person wielding the shank was a 17-year-old who’d already stabbed a kid in the same facility earlier in the year, with both of the stabbings potentially deadly incidents.
Yet, on April 4, just slightly a week before the stabbing, something genuinely unexpected occurred when the county took the unusual step of hiring Guillermo Viera Rosa as “Chief Strategist for Juvenile Operations” for the Los Angeles County Probation Department.
The position had never previously existed, and Viera Rosa came from outside probation. His background includes over 27 years of experience working in the field of corrections and rehabilitation. He also has experience on the youth side of things, and reportedly has a reputation for being smart and unafraid of challenges.
On April 19, Los Angeles County CEO, Fesia Davenport officially notified probation staff that Viera Rosa was now on the job.
Significantly, as indicated by the org chart the CEO sent with her announcement, it was made clear that Viera Rosa would report directly only to the board of supervisors, not to Interim Chief Karen Fletcher.
Instead, Fletcher was to oversee other sections of the department, such as internal affairs, and the administrative side of probation. In other words, it appeared she was not working on the youth side of the agency at all.
However, directly below Viera Rosa on the CEO’s org chart was Felicia Cotton, interim Chief Fletcher’s number two.
Reportedly, Cotton has also now been moved to the adult side of the agency, presumably at Viera Rosa’s direction.
And Fletcher is gone altogether.
We have heard from several sources that the board is likely to offer Viera Rosa the position of interim Chief of Probation—that is, if he will take the job.
A new, high ticket plan & reserve LA County Sheriff’s deputies
In the meantime, the five LA County Supervisors voted on Tuesday afternoon to accept a 10-page proposal from CEO Davenport, which outlines a plan for the county to reopen probation’s third youth hall, the now-closed Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall (LP), and then repurpose all three youth halls at a cost of $28,802,000.
“This will not increase probation’s footprint or frustrate the transition to Youth Justice Reimagined,” wrote the CEO.
“Probation’s plan will better leverage existing facilities and available staff and resources to improve conditions and care for Probation youth, while flexing up temporary staff and other resources to stabilize conditions in the juvenile halls.”
Several youth advocates we spoke with on Tuesday were not at all upbeat on the topic of the CEO’s proposal.
“Thirty million to continue what we’ve always done,” said Julio Marcial, his tone grim. Marcial is a well known youth justice expert and Senior vice President of Programs for the Liberty Hill Foundation.
As for the plan itself, in this “leveraging” of facilities, Los Padrinos will house pre-disposition youth—meaning kids who are charged with something but who have not had a “disposition” hearing, which is akin to a sentencing hearing in adult court. According to the proposal, there are at present about 275 pre-disposition youth who will be housed at LP.
Under the new strategy, the county’s staggeringly troubled Barry J Nidorf Juvenile Hall is to become the facility that will house the youth who previously would have gone to the state’s soon-to-be shuttered Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). These are the young people now known as Secure Youth Treatment Facility (SYTF) youth.
(A few of the SYTF kids are now at Campus Kilpatrick, but they are not not mentioned in the new plan.)
The last of the three facilities, Central Juvenile Hall, is to be designated under the CEO’s plan as “a law enforcement intake unit and medical and diagnostic/assessment hub.”
This new game of musical chairs with the kids in LA County’s care is presumably being proposed—at least in part—in the hope of getting the California Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC), off the county’s case.
As WLA has reported previously, if Los Angeles County Probation cannot bring its two still operating youth lock-ups into compliance with a list of state mandated rules, inside a certain designated period, the BSCC will have no choice but to declare the two youth halls,“unsuitable for youth habitation.”
In other words, Central Juvenile Hall and Barry J Nidorf would be deemed unsafe places for kids to be live in at all. Period, full stop.
If that occurs, the county would have 60 additional days to move nearly all the kids in residence at the two facilities somewhere else.
Weirdly, though, even if Barry J is deemed “unsuitable,” the SYTF youth will be able to remain in the Sylmar facility, because the BSCC doesn’t have legal jurisdiction over former DJJ youth.
In other words, if the SYTF youth stay at Barry J Nidorf Juvenile Hall, it will not necessarily be because the place has gotten any safer, with it’s non-latching cell doors, et al, which have reportedly allowed kids to jump other kids in their cells.
It’s just that the state oversight board is not legally able to hold probation’s feet to the fire on the matter of the SYTF population.
There’s a lot more to the plan, which you can read here.
Meanwhile, the two existing youth halls are still dismally short on staff.
To temporarily lessen this ongoing problem, the proposal recommends that probation ask the LA County Sheriff’s Department to “redeploy a select number of reserve officers to the juvenile halls to help stabilize the staffing levels in the facilities.”
This potential use of LASD reserve deputies—most one presumes who have no experience in the world of youth justice—has caused concern in some quarters.
More as we know it. So….watch this space.
Open up Challenger. Go back to the old ways PT the shit out of the kids. Pepper spray them if they don’t comply. Lock them up for days at a time. Their behavior will change, I guarantee it. You bleeding heart liberals ruin EVERYTHING! y’all act like these juveniles are victims! These are bad ass apples that need to be punished in order to comply. After they are punished they will comply. Then u can do your horse shit mental health act on these criminals. But first you must have order and compliance.
Readers with common sense! Do not leave any comments. We must stop generating traffic to this one sided agenda website. Obviously LA County Probation is this websites main bread and butter generating traffic, clicks, and comments. If you want real info visit the instagram page Alertcountycitizensnow. Many commenters ask Celeste to come and put a uniform on for a day and observe working conditions for herself and silence! Nothing. So at some point we need stop helping sites like this push their one way/ one sided agenda. Obviously WitnessLa wants chaos on our streets of LA.
“Youth judicial advocates” and assorted “youth advocates” along with their fellow travellers, e.g. cheerleaders like witness la, are free to embrace whatever the latest fad in social justice is. “Restorative justice” is a good example. This is because they have zero responsibility when things fail. They are accountable to no one, so when the policies they champion lead to the inevitable mayhem we’re now seeing in the halls, they just shrug and say their policies haven’t been tried hard enough.
The county on the other hand is responsible for everything, and they’re staring into the abyss. They’ve listened to the crazies and grifters and now they have a disaster unfolding on their hands. This latest plan seems like they’re slapping white wash and duct tape on the problem but at least they’re trying to pull back from the ledge. Hopefully they’ll wise up and end the nonsense.
Celeste Fremon…. Please go and research Guillermo Villa Rosa’s (GVR) past at corrections and specifically at parole. That experience you are quoting is non-existent. He is an empty suit with an empty resume. If he didn’t have connections in the legislature he would be unemployed. He has never lasted anywhere because he is either doing shady things like favoritism, illegal hires, or moving budgets around illegally. He always removes his second in command and installs his sycophants. Watch in the coming weeks who he replaces his underlings with. They will all be from CDCR and used to work with him. He is an empty suit and will not last 2 years and will leave in shame just like Jerry Powers. Go through his whole resume and track down the real reasons for leaving. That’s the story worth investigating and how did he come to Probation?????
Villa Rosa gutted, then dissolved the Adult Program Unit (APU) within Division of Adult Parole (DAPO) thus eliminating re-entry services for parolees statewide; an incredibly damaging decision for public safety and newly released parolees and their families. He essentially eliminated the R from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). This action was unethical and immoral. Character counts. These large state and county entities need to be more astute in who they choose to lead their organizations.
Guillermo Viera Rosa owns and operates a security business last known as the “Garrison Group International” (GGI) License number: 121018.
His business partners at GGI are (CFO: Arturo Barcenas, and Secretary: Kevin Walker. These are also former CDCR employees and close friends of GVR whom he continuously promoted and placed in special assignments where their primary responsibility was to drive him up and down the state of California.
Over the course of his career with DAPO, Guillermo Viera Rosa would mostly hired his GGI business partners (friends) for coveted retired annuitant positions within CDCR and only promoted people who
would absolutely say “Yes” to his often times immoral commands.
Guillermo has no Emotional Intelligence and does not have the capacity to direct LA County Probations without placing people in positions around him that will be his “yes” men. He will attempt to hire Arturo Barcenas, Kevin Walker and Brenda Crowding within the Probation Department in some capacity. They will insulate him from staff that would blow the whistle on the corruption that he is about to unleash in the L.A County Probation Department.
Contract’s for training and training supplies with be awarded to his friends with the expectation of kick backs to him in an indiscreet way.
This was a BAD HIRE and I suspect he was not properly vetted, because if so he would never have been considered for this position. He has a history of embellishing his resume as necessary. He was not well respected or liked in CDCR, and in fact, he was DEMOTED from UnderSecretary to Director a just a few years ago, where he continued to do an absolute horrible job. Pay attention as he speaks softly and lowly while taking the Probation Department for one hell of a ride.
If you thing L.A County probations is in shambles now, you haven’t seen anything yet…..Just wait!!
Barry J is terrible from top to bottom. Having worked there in the medical department this facility drips of incompetence. Certainly there are professional staff but there is an overwhelming amount of unprofessional staff throughout probation and medical. The juveniles as well have no boundaries, no structure, drugs constantly/knowingly used, playing PlayStation of flat screen TVs and browsing the internet/Facebook/IG, vaping and eating Cheetos all day. No support amongst each other staff wise. Multiple probation being fired for having relationships/impregnated with/by the juveniles. Medical staff/Nurses extreme lack of competence/experience, management directly refusing to address the lack of education/decision making/basic medical knowledge amongst the nurses and rather allow the continuation of unsafe practice and poor decision making. Nurse supervisors and current nurse manager Deborah aiding/encouraging in this behavior as well as themselves taking bribes. Staff sneaking in drugs. Overdoses at a minimum of once a week. Extremely unsafe atmosphere for all involved unfortunately. But don’t take my word for it, simply read about the track record/dysfunction at Barry J and decide for yourself.
Leadership starts at the top and that is where the extreme dysfunction starts at this facility. If you have poor leadership/incompetence in your leadership at the top then everyone else will follow that lead.
Well with GVR leading Juvenile Probation they are definitely doomed and will fail even more. I’m sure he will bring his other Loser friends over to make sure that Probation is completely done. He left Parole in shambles and left one of his no nothing idiots in charge who continues to be out of the loop of what Parole Field Agents do. In addition his Flunky Marvin Speed has tried to maintain all of these stupid changes that GVR tried to do snd they are all backfiring. Hopefully the Secretary will restore order and get rid of all these cancerous fools that GVR put in positions that SHOULD NOT BE THERE. I can list names, but someone already did above.
WOW!!!! Based on the comments and I am sure some of them may have been slightly embellished, nonetheless, appear to be corroborated by others, it appears that Mr. Rosa has a pretty interesting background and an unethical approach to how he handles his business.
Since I do not know anything about Mr. Rosa, I will let time and his actions dictate my decision about the man. Further, I will definitely be paying attention on some of the above named individuals.
However, I tend to agree with some of what “Chin to Chest” has suggested. Further, if the staff is as bad as has been described in these posts (i.e., supplying narcotics, inappropriate relations etc.), it is time to get rid of the cancer and start anew.
what’s this rumor that a minor passed away at sylmar? celeste or memphis mike?