WASHINGTON (AP) — Some big changes could be in the wind for the federal criminal justice system.

In remarks planned Monday for the American bar Association in San Francisco, Attorney General Eric Holder says some of the changes include scaling back the use of harsh prison sentences for certain drug-related crimes and diversion of low-level offenders to drug treatment and community service. The plan would also expand the release of some elderly, non-violent offenders.

Under the altered policy, the attorney general said defendants will instead be charged with offenses for which accompanying sentences "are better suited to their individual conduct."

Federal prisons are operating at nearly 40 percent above capacity and hold more than 219,000 inmates — with almost half of them serving time for drug-related crimes.

Holder says the U.S. can't simply "prosecute or incarcerate our way to becoming a safer nation."

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