CHOWCHILLA (CBS SF) – James Schoenfeld, one of three men convicted in the Chowchilla bus kidnapping nearly 40 years ago, is closer to becoming a free man.

The state parole board granted Schoenfeld parole on Wednesday.

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In 1976, James Schoenfeld, his brother Richard and Frederick Woods hijacked a school bus, taking the 26 children on board and the driver hostage.

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The Chowchilla bus kidnappers. (CBS)

The Chowchilla bus kidnappers. (CBS)

They took their captives to an underground bunker near Livermore. The hostages were able to dig their way out to freedom and the men were caught and sent to prison.

Richard Schoenfeld was released from prison in 2012.

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Gov. Jerry Brown still has to approve the parole board’s decision. If James Schoenfeld is released, he said he would live with his mother and brother in Mountain View.