Donald Blevins, who left Alameda County to head Los Angeles’s Probation Department a year-and-a-half ago, has taken a sudden retirement from his newish post. In Los Angeles, like most counties, the probation department is the primary local coordinator for realignment. Blevins and Los Angeles’s other public officials, like the sheriff, district attorney, and members of the Board of Supervisors, had reportedly disagreed on how heartily to embrace realignment. Blevins embraced the change. Los Angeles’s political forces, however, have been borderline mutinous when it comes to absorbing 15,000 new inmates and parolees–at one point, threatening to not pass a plan to deal with the new population.
An LA TImes report indicates Blevins has had other issues as well:
The Probation Department has been dealing in recent years with multiple controversies and challenges, including the U.S. Department of Justice demanding a series of 41 reforms in juvenile camps by Oct. 31 and the state’s new realignment program, under which some 9,000 parolees have been transferred to county supervision.
And while some have given him credit for making big strides toward reform, he had also faced criticism about high rates of absenteeism by probation officers and complaints from the union over his management.
Jerry Powers, current probation chief in Stanislaus County, is reportedly the top contender to take over from Blevins. Currently, Powers oversees 250 employees and a $25 million budget. The Los Angeles Probation Department has 6,200 employees and a $750 million budget. Despite coming from a small county, Powers has become a statewide figure through his leadership of the state’s association of probation chiefs.