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Bob Walsh The California Crisis
with Bob Walsh

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Dangerous repercussions of Calif.'s realignment program

The state's realignment plan has life-threatening consequences for one unlikely victim

By Bob Walsh

Brandy Arreola is only 20 years old. She is in the hospital and just celebrated her 21st birthday without the ability to walk or talk, or even eat. She had the bad judgment or bad luck to get involved with Raoul Leyva, 33. That, and a combination of realignment policy and overcrowding seem to have led to what will likely be her death.

Leyva has a lengthy record of criminal activity. Records show he has been incarcerated on and off since 2004 for convictions including possessing and selling a controlled substance and vehicle theft. He also has a conviction for sending material to seduce a minor, according to booking records.

On March 23 he was arrested for a parole violation and sentenced to 100 days as a guest of the county for that violation. He began that 100 days as a realignment prisoner in San Joaquin County on April 9 and was released, due to overcrowding, on April 11, having served 2 percent of his time.

On April 26 he was back in custody on attempted murder charges. He is alleged to have beaten Ms. Arreola so badly she is unlikely to survive. He left her laying on the floor of the apartment for several days (that is DAYS, not minutes or even hours), asking assorted acquaintances what he should do about the situation. Eventually somebody called for medical assistance. Leyva was arrested. 

He is being held against a $2 million bail. That will almost certainly be raised substantially or even withdrawn if the young woman dies before the case comes to trial, resulting in a murder charge.

Everyone involved in the system knew this would happen one day, the only question is how soon and how spectacular the failure of the system will be. There is still hope that Ms. Arreola will pull through.  Only recently she began breathing on her own and still requires a feeding tube for nutrients. It is not a good hope, and it does not excuse the system of the failure.   

Have you read any stories about the affects the realignment has had so far? Tell us in the comments below. 

About the author

Bob Walsh worked for 24 years with the California Department of Corrections at Deuel Vocational Institution located near Tracy, California. He retired in early 2005. Since then he has been taking classes, exercising his obsolete camera equipment, rusticating and writing for the PacoVilla web site which focuses on issues within what is now called the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCr) and within the union representing CDCr employees, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA).

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