An increasing number of county judges are using split sentences, thanks to California's new felon imprisonment law, which now requires low-level offenders to serve time in county jail instead of state prison.
According to the Los Angeles Times, a study by the Chief Probation Officers of California found that a greater number of judges are using split sentences. When an offender is given a split sentence, he or she is required to serve part of the time in county jail and spend the other part of the sentence in a community program.
According to the new law, existing probation ineligibility should not keep a judge from imposing a split sentence. Mandatory supervision imposed under a split sentence is not to be considered probation.
Offenders who are not given a split sentence are required to spend their entire sentence in jail. After they are released, there usually is no followup.
According to the study, 23 percent of all local prison sentences have been split since the prison law started in October 2011. While this has lessened the load on jails, it has also increased the responsibilities of county probation offices.
The use of split sentences is not consistent across all 58 of the state's counties. While judges in 18 counties hand out split sentences to more than half of their offenders, only 5 percent of felons in Los Angeles are given split sentences.