Ventura, CA – Ventura County Probation Chief Mark Varela has announced plans to retire on January 28, 2023. “Under Chief Varela’s leadership, our Probation Agency has made transformative changes in effective rehabilitation and prevention programs providing the best chance for positive change for justice-involved individuals,” said Chair of the Board of Supervisors Matt LaVere. “Among many community programs and approaches implemented under his leadership, Mark was instrumental in construction oversight and transition to the County’s juvenile justice center. We are incredibly grateful for his dedicated service to our County and community.”
Varela was appointed as Probation Chief by the Board of Supervisors in March 2010. Varela, who will be 57 later this month, is a 34-year county employee with nearly the last 13 years in the position of Probation Agency Director/Chief Probation Officer. Varela is the ninth probation chief in the agency’s 113-year history and the first Latino to serve in this role.
“We sincerely appreciate Chief Varela’s decades-long service to Ventura County,” said Chief Executive Officer Sevet Johnson. “Thanks to his leadership and vision, our Probation Agency is stronger and more well-positioned than ever before to continue on a path of leading systemic change in rehabilitation and criminal justice. We wish him all the best in his next chapter.”
“I leave behind over 400 staff members of the Probation Agency who are committed to our mission and fiercely dedicated to serving our community,” said Varela. “I look forward to seeing the positive impact the Probation Agency will continue to make in our neighborhoods and communities.”
During his tenure as Chief, Varela has led the Probation Agency through landmark state and local criminal justice reforms and initiatives. Under Varela’s leadership of 400 personnel with an annual operating budget of nearly $78 million, the Probation Agency oversaw the establishment of innovative rehabilitative programs for youth residents assigned to the County’s Juvenile Facilities; the development and implementation of three community evening reporting centers for youth and two reporting and resource centers for adults; creation and expansion of jail and detention alternative programs throughout the County; and solid partnerships with local service and community treatment providers. He has chaired the County’s Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council, Community Corrections Partnership, and the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Steering Committee.
Aside from spending more time with his family and traveling the world, Varela plans to remain active in community affairs. “I believe in service to our community, and I will continue to find ways to assist the residents of this county,” Varela said.
The Board of Supervisors and Superior Court will have four months to appoint a successor. The recruitment for the Probation Chief position will open in the coming weeks.