LA County Probation Chief Gonzales fired by Supervisors, his 2nd in command to take his place

Probation Chief Adolfo Gonzales with youth after marathon in San Diego
Celeste Fremon
Written by Celeste Fremon

Los Angeles County Probation Chief Adolfo Gonzales was fired by the Board of Supervisors late in the afternoon on Tuesday, effective immediately.

“There was no more cell phone or email,” one friend of Gonzales told WLA. “They told him, and that was it.”

Gonzales’ second in command, Karen Fletcher, will reportedly run the deeply troubled agency for now.

Fletcher is respected by some within the organization, while viewed by others—both staff and advocates—as a part of the worsening problems at the agency’s dangerous youth lock-ups, Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall and Central Juvenile Hall.

She was, after all, the chief deputy.

From bad to worse

So, how bad are things?

Well, on Monday of last week, February 27, a youth who had just this month arrived in Barry J—as the Sylmar-located facility is known—overdosed on fentanyl.  A staff member administered NARCAN and the young man survived.

The next day, Tuesday, February 28,  there were two more overdoses in the same unit at Barry J.  Two more life-saving doses of NARCAN were administered by Detention Service Officers (DSOs) on duty. 

The overdoses occurred in unit Y, which is the unit that was chosen to house the young people who, as of February 2, 2023, have been arriving in new batches every Thursday from the Department of Juvenile Justice, or DJJ, the state’s youth prison system, which will be shuttered this summer.  

Last week’s overdoses were preceded earlier in the month by two more overdoses by kids who had taken contraband narcotics that are being smuggled into the facility, in some cases (but not all) reportedly by staff, according to WitnessLA’s staff sources.  The kids were reportedly hospitalized and, again, fortunately both survived.  

Also last month, one kid stabbed another kid at Barry J.  One more time, the injured boy survived, but it was only blind luck that the victim wasn’t hurt worse, say those familiar with the circumstances of the attack. 

Later still in the month, a completely different youth stabbed a staff member at Barry J.  Once again it was a near miss. The stabbing reportedly could have been far worse, even deadly, had the Detention Service Officer (DSO) not been wearing more layers of clothes than usual in the cold weather.

WitnessLA’s sources personally familiar with the circumstances of the attacks describe how both stabbings could and should have been prevented had those in management listened to the recommendations of line staff at the hall.

Evidently staff members begged supervisors not to move move two individual kids into the two individual units where their respective presence would be extremely problematic. Yet, in each case, the higher ups ignored the staff members. The result was two acts of potentially deadly violence.

As WitnessLA has reported earlier, Chief Gonzales has been generally well liked since he came into the position two years ago as a reformist. 

Yet, inexplicably he has repeatedly failed to hit many of most crucially important marks as chief, to the point that only 11 percent of his workforce has been coming to work at the halls.

Then, on February 9, 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 so extravagantly out of compliance when it comes to the most basic standards of care and safety for the young people in residence at the two facilities that, if massive fixes aren’t accomplished by June of this year, the BSCC will be forced to declare the two facilities “unsuitable for youth habitation,” which means youth of any age may no longer be housed at either facility.

There’s lots more to this story so watch this space.


  • The true problem is the BOS. Many of the departments under their watch are failing. In my career, I’ve had a new Chief every other year. No stability. If it was up to many of us, close down the institutions. It’s not safe for the “young adults” and definitely not safe for many of our hard working staff. They try and force field staff to go help out and due safety, field work or simple mental health issues (department shames us for) we refuse. You have management refusing to fix the problem, become part of the solution and not just force staff to fix something that the department or BOS doesn’t want fixed. We are a broken department, but we are also a broken county with the BOS that we have running it.

  • The crumbling credibility of the Department is nothing new. Having seen the disfunction from the inside, I feel confident in saying that what is needed at this juncture is a leader with a sledgehammer. No more Mister or Mrs. Nice-guy. The issues here are systemic and deeply rooted in some members of the workforce. Change cannot wait. Bold action needs to be taken. Now.

  • Editor’s note:

    Several commenters objected to our earlier photo which featured an X through the photo of Chief Gonzales. It was intended as a graphic statement reflecting the fact he was fired. But, upon additional reflection, I think the commenters were right. So it’s gone.


  • Why isn’t the board of supervisors addressing the racial riot that happened at central juvenile hall monday. or the many of staff and minor relationships that are being swept under the rug by internal affairs. some that made supervisors not too long ago. so many names to choose from. come one staff, the more you stay quiet. the more the bos will throw you under the bus. maybe witness la needs to talk to former staff. the union is too afraid to ruffle any feathers because they don’t want to work the line. the more they stay out of units, the better for them

  • All problems are coming from senior managements, both sworn and non-sworn. Information System Bureau (ISB) at LA County, Probation also has its own problems which the senior managements are abusing staff so their MAAP goals can be met. Someone should take some times to investigate this division also!

  • I’m thankful something is happening! I was in the halls in 2002-2003 and I endured a lot of pain caused by probation officers. I was in camp/halls for truancy I didn’t deserve to be abused. This is a long time coming and I pray the LA probation department is held accountable for all the abuse everyone has suffered at their hands

  • Wow. Thank God we have the formerly incarcerated members of POC making decisions for the Los Angeles County Probation Dept. Being locked up in jail/prison makes you an expert.

  • LA has been screwed up for years. You can thank that clown DA in LA for a lack of support. The liberal board does not care. Then you promote based on equity and not on job performance what do you expect. They want a certain racial background. Remember our old chief deputies they were promoted by race. And one of their daughters got pregnant by an inmate? That was swept under the rug. They keep hiring dysfunctional Chiefs to fix the problem but you can’t fix a problem overnight that has been destroyed for 20 years. The leaders treat the employees like garbage that’s why all the inspections failed. How can you get out of compliance in 40 areas? Now Adolfo is just chasing titles he didn’t care about LA. [WLA edit]. How the chief promoted all the Latinos and homies based on friendships the dept got destroyed. The union loved him and didn’t fight because he talked to them. Big red who was the older chief didn’t do much either. Now LA is auctioning firearms, employees committing work comp fraud and not working, it’s a easy way to make money as an executive and not do anything. Then they put a black person in a high ranking person because he’s black. Let’s not promote a white person at all because it does not look right. Now look at the agency the Board of Corrections is upset with LA but the department has been scamming the county with overpaid salaries for years. The chief deputies make over 200k and don’t even work.

  • Regarding DesotoCali’s claim: Come on man! No one gets locked up for truancy. You violated your conditions of probation by refusing to go to school, but you were already on probation for whatever crime you committed. I’m just pointing this out because, frankly, I’m tired of hearing hyperbole from former minors crying about being victims of an unfair criminal justice system. Come on man. It’s this kind of b.s that has the rich, white, philanthropists motivated in funding those that are trying to destroy the Probation Dept.

  • You should see the criminal records most of these kids have. Very extensive and violent. And guess what, they have more rights than any staff.
    This is just empowering the beast.

  • It’s the Board that should be fired. Are there problems? Sure. The Board has utterly mishandled reforms and some of the leaders at the top of probation should have their history of discipline on the job disclosed. No surprise Probation is in this shape at all. LASD personnel should rejoice that their Sheriff is elected. Wait until halls and more camps are closed; leaving all those that should be detained out on the street. If communities think it’s bad now – just wait.

  • First of all, why promote second in command when she was part of the problem? The most egregious violations occurred since she was brought over from San Francisco. She left no legacy in SF and made horrible decisions, including firing a Deputy, only to have the civil service commission reverse the firing and make the employee whole, as if he never left, after almost 2 years. She is dishonest and an empty title. Why remove a Latino and replace with a white woman, coincidentally named Karen.

  • Them high paid babysitters club that are super sloppy and scary get paid hella well can’t even write a decent court or pcms they all cut n paste they always crying about something being held over they get paid the uniform allowance they look more raggedy then the juveniles incarcerated there. They always want free food and are hurting for 25 quarters for a plate at the potlucks I can’t wait for this useless tax payer funded useless Department to be abolished dismantled and abolished they the main drug dealers on the youth. They drugged them so they can have a “ good shift” it’s so sickening. Then you have workers comp fraud in there from them babysitters like [WLA edit] who makes false accusations statements and reports so she can be out on IA and be vacationing and partying yet she claims to have been injured a bunch of clowns and let’s not forget that pornography addict [WLA edit] bbq [WLA edit] showing the youth porn on his shift and sexually harassing women

  • [WLA edit] brags that she is “Rihanna’s Twin” to the male and female youth housed in there she always on her phone taking pictures for TikTok Snap chat etc showing her inappropriate pictures to the youth and is always out on IA = vacations if corruption at its finest were a definition it would be the world highest paid babysitters club sitting all day gossiping and on their phones if the main clown got fired why can’t the whole zoo circus be shut down

  • Editor’s note:

    Dear “Truth be Told’ and others,

    For those who find their comments edited by WLA, the edits were due to the fact that you wrote about department members using their real names in such a way that could get you accused of slander. This is a one time warning to all. Next time, we will simply delete your comments.

    Thank you in advance for your cooperation.


  • The probation department is a complete cluster–incompetence, stupidity. Please do NOT blame the children in custody—the only thing that happens for children in custody is you make their lives worse. LA uses the criminal (in)justice system to support American Apartheid. Good riddens Gonzo! The whole department needs to be trimmed–too much fat, overhead, etc.

Leave a Comment