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.
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.