Felons now serving their sentences in county jail face the prospect of longer parole terms under a bill sponsored by sheriffs in the state and nearing a final vote in the Legislature.
The legislation, carried by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, allows county parole boards created as part of the state's prison shift to give inmates a three-year parole sentence instead of the current two-year term. It already has been approved by the Assembly.
In the past, felons affected by the law would have served their sentences in state prison and gone before a state parole board. California's 2011 plan to reduce prison crowding now diverts those lower-level offenders to the counties.
The California State Sheriff's Assn. sponsored the bill, arguing that longer parole terms would help make up for judges who are failing to use another tool at their disposal, splitting sentences between jail and probation. The Contra Costa County's sheriff was among those supporting the bill, saying it would give him "additional flexibility" to manage his jail population.