A trial scheme under which women serve jail terms part time is being extended to the rest of the country.
A part-time prison scheme is to be extended nationwide
The programme allows women to spend weekends or weekdays in prison, and the rest of the time working or with their families.
Home Secretary David Blunkett made the announcement at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton on Wednesday.
The system has been tried at Morton Hall Women's Prison, Lincs, and Kirkham Prison, Lancs.
The aim of the scheme is to deter women from re-offending.
But the part-time sentences have come under criticism from the Howard League for Penal Reform, which described the idea as "ludicrous".
The league said there were better alternatives such as offenders apologising to their victims.
While in the community, the offenders will be under the supervision of probation officers, either working, looking for a job, or doing unpaid community work.
If behaviour is not up to scratch, they may be returned to jail full-time.