Ventura County probation chief picked by governor for corrections board
From the Ventura County Star
Ventura County Probation Director Mark Varela has been appointed to a state corrections board by Gov. Jerry Brown.
Varela’s three-year term on the Board of State and Community Corrections begins Sunday, a board spokeswoman said. The appointment requires confirmation by the state Senate within the next 12 months.
He will be the only board member from Ventura County because Sheriff Geoff Dean’s term ends on the same date. Dean has decided not to seek re-election as sheriff and is retiring from office.
The board is charged with providing leadership to adult and juvenile criminal justice systems. Its responsibilities include updating and revising rules for adult and juvenile detention facilities, conducting inspections of those facilities, administering grant funding and developing standards for the selection and training of local corrections and probation officers.
Officials said the board provides expertise on public safety realignment. Under that shift that began in 2011, certain lower-level offenders were diverted from crowded state prisons and are serving their sentences in county jails.
Varela, 52, of Camarillo, said he was deeply honored by the appointment to the independent agency. He has almost 30 years of experience in probation and corrections at both the state and county levels, he said.
The native of Ventura County holds a bachelor’s degree in law and society from UC Santa Barbara. He started with the Ventura County Probation Agency in 1988 as a deputy probation officer and has risen through the ranks to become the director. In 2015, he served as the president of the Chief Probation Officers of California.
Varela oversees a staff of almost 430 officers and support personnel. They supervise more than 9,000 Ventura County adults and juveniles serving probation, oversee youths in juvenile custodial facilities and provide sentencing and probation reports to the courts.
He’s particularly interested now in finding ways to prevent juveniles and adults from entering the criminal justice system.
“Prevention and early intervention seem to be my biggest passion,” Varela said.