Prisoners should have periods of temporary release in communities to help them rehabilitate, the Prison Reform Trust said today.
The trust argue that releasing prisoners on a temporary licence helps prisoners become more responsible, rebuild relationships with their families, and find work after their release.
The respected charity also claimed it would tackle reoffending and ultimately reduce the number of prisoners being reconvicted. Almost half of adult offenders are reconvicted within a year of their release.
Prison Reform Trust chairman Lord Woolf said the "likely outcome" of denying prisoners responsibility is a "dependency on the prison authorities during their sentence and an inability to exercise responsibility after their release.
He argued that giving prisoners the opportunity to make choices and being held responsible for those choices encourages prisoners to use their sentences positively.
"Treating prisoners as responsible - and making full use of their knowledge and skills as well as their hopes and ambitions - suggests a blueprint for prisons that encourages former prisoners to be law-abiding on release with the prospect of being out for good," Mr Woolf said.
A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman stressed: "A balance must be struck between helping prisoners to resettle successfully so that they do not reoffend and making sure a custodial sentence is just that."