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State Senate passes bill to ease jail crowding

September 4, 2009 |  1:01 pm

The state Senate approved a measure today aimed at easing overcrowding in Los Angeles County jails.

Sheriff Lee Baca sought the proposal, which would allow sheriffs to transfer low-level felons from jails to home detention, where they would be tracked with electronic ankle bracelets.

Sheriffs already have the authority to order misdemeanor offenders to home detention; the new measure would expand that authority.

"If inmates sentenced to low-level felonies in county jails are added [to home detention], we can better control our population and create much-needed room for the more serious offenders," said Assemblyman Mike Davis (D-Los Angeles), author of the bill, AB 1369.

Some lawmakers who supported the expanded powers for sheriffs had blocked a move to give the same powers to the head of the state prison system.

The bill returns to the Assembly for approval of technical changes. It then goes to the governor, who has not taken a public position on it. 

-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento