Prison inmates could be barred from early release if they could not fill out job applications, under a new proposal from the Liberal Democrats.
The Lib Dem plan would bar early release if basic standards aren't met
The scheme is aimed at forcing prisoners to acquire basic literacy skills while in jail.
As many as seven in 10 inmates are said to leave prison without adequate reading and writing levels.
The Lib Dems say the scheme would help released prisoners find work, reducing the chance of them reoffending.
A party spokesman said there would be flexibility in the scheme, so that inmates with learning difficulties would not be disadvantaged.
But he said an element of compulsion should be introduced into prison education programs.
"If someone was showing zero interest... we would put the release date back," the spokesman said.
"It is an extension of what already happens when release dates are affected by participation in behaviour programmes."
The scheme forms part of the Lib Dems' 10-point plan on crime and anti-social behaviour.
Other proposals announced on Friday include allowing people to nominate projects for offenders sentenced to community service and forcing pubs and clubs to meet part of the costs of policing binge drinking hotspots.
Lib Dems home affairs spokesman Mark Oaten said the plans proved the party is not soft on crime.