Prison reformers want the Government to put inmates to work on cleaning up quake-hit Christchurch.
Those on community work sentences are already helping, but the lobby group Rethinking Crime and Punishment says much more can be done.
The group's director, Kim Workman, a former head of the Prison Service, says he is thinking particularly of those jailed for up to six months, who are usually low-risk offenders.
Mr Workman says prisoners were used similarly during Australia's recent floods.
He says it would save money, while helping the community and the inmates' rehabilitation.
Mission gets help with clean-up
The Christchurch City Mission has engaged the help of people on community work sentences to help clean up its quake-hit foodbank and homeless shelter.
On Wednesday, at least 15 of the workers cleared out a mass of rotten and spilled food and began to bring the night shelter back into running order.
The Mission's Hereford St site had been off-limits behind the central city cordon, and City Missioner Michael Gorman says its detox service building has been red-stickered.
Mr Gorman says the mission urgently needs more non-perishable food, meat and money to get by.