Washington, District Of Columbia -
Shorter sentences could be on the way for as many as 20,000 federal prisoners.
That's if a new proposal by the Justice Department is approved by the US Sentencing Commission next month .
Attorney General Eric Holder plans to discuss the issue at an event later today.
The change would apply to prisoners without "significant" criminal histories, and whose crimes didn't involve weapons or violence.
The department estimates the change would benefit up to nine-percent of the federal prison population of nearly 217,000.
Not all prisoners who applied for the reduced sentences would receive them.
The proposal is part of Holder's "Smart On Crime" efforts.
The Attorney General wants to reduce the prison population and loosen mandatory sentencing rules for non-violent drug crimes.
He often cites data showing that with only five-percent of the world's population, the US has nearly a quarter of the planet's prisoners.
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