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Birthday in a Coma Because of Realignment

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Brandy Marie Arreola is 21 today, but there is no party.  She lies in a coma in San Joaquin General Hospital in California.  Jordan Guinn has this story in the Stockton Record.  The subhead of the story reads, "Sitting beside a hospital bed, Diana Muñoz focuses on love and hope. In private, she rages at the man and law she says put her daughter there."

"Hi, baby, what do you want momma to get you for your birthday?" Muñoz said as she stroked Arreola's raven hair and kissed her forehead during a visit Tuesday evening. "I love you. I'm here."

When Muñoz asks her daughter if she can hear her, the only response is the automated clicks and hisses of the machine removing fluid from Arreola's lungs.

Muñoz cycles from grief for her daughter to rage at the suspect in custody to contempt for California's prison realignment plan, which she believes also is to blame for the attack.

Raoul Leyva, 33, is in custody in connection with Arreola's beating, according to Stockton police.

The two had known each other only for about a month, Muñoz said.

Leyva was not the man she wanted her daughter to date, and she disliked him from the start. He was rude and disrespectful, she said.

Records show he has been incarcerated on an intermittent basis since 2004 for convictions including possession of a controlled substance for sale and vehicle theft. He also has a conviction in San Joaquin County for sending material to seduce a minor, according to booking records.

Leyva was arrested in late March for failing to register as a sex offender or report to his parole officer. The state Board of Parole hearings ordered him to serve a 100-day jail term April 9, but Superior Court Judge Richard Guiliani released him from custody April 11, according to records.

Guiliani said when the County Jail reaches its capacity - there are 1,255 beds available - certain lower-level offenders have to be released. AB109 has added about 200 more prisoners. Because the county is dealing with increased inmate numbers, the court has to prioritize between sending people who have technical parole violations and those who have committed new crimes, Guiliani said. Parole violators are released first.

He was considered a low-level offender, ordered to serve his sentence in the San Joaquin County Jail instead of state prison, because California is reducing its prison population under the realignment law AB109.

He should have been incarcerated, Muñoz said, rather than being free to brutalize her daughter.

"Why didn't he do his time in prison?" Muñoz asked.

Had his arrest for parole violation taken place prior to the implementation of the 7-month-old realignment, prison is where he would have been.

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Part of the problem is the 5-4 decision upholding the skewed panel's prison reduction order. Since President Obama appointed his two Justices partially on the basis of empathy, it's fair to ask how much empathy he has for this poor woman and her family.

Congratulations to Justices Kennedy, Sotomayor, Kagan, Breyer and Ginsburg. They own this result.

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