Corrections experts differ on whether the change in policy could lead to shorter prison terms for thousands of inmates.
Under a settlement approved this week by a state appeals court judge, the Board of Parole Hearings will more quickly set the minimum time that should be served before an inmate is considered for release.
The minimum time is not binding on parole decisions but sets a guideline for how much time a convict ought to serve.
Before, the board generally waited to set minimum terms until it decided an inmate was suitable for parole.
Now it will set the minimum term at the inmate's first parole hearing.