Attorney General Jeff Sessions' two-page memo to U.S. attorney's offices across the country, calling for stricter criminal charges and sentencing, could harm those already behind bars.
Sessions' memo, which calls on prosecutors to charge and pursue the "most serious" offenses, isn't welcome news for the wrongfully convicted.
"The system gets so overwhelmed," said Justin Brooks, director of the California Innocence Project. "When the systems burdened, it impacts everyone."
The CIP, a law school program at California Western School of Law, works to release wrongfully convicted inmates.
And more criminal cases hurts their appeals process, according to Brooks, because judges won't have time to hear appeals.
Moreover, while Justice Department officials told USA TODAY that low-level drug offenders would not be targeted unless they were involved with guns or gangs, the memo mentions "mandatory minimum sentences."
"Anything that increases sentences just makes the situation worse in the United States, prisons are overcrowded, courts are jammed full of cases," said Brooks.
A spokeswoman with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Sacramento told ABC10 Friday that they are reviewing Sessions' memo.