The National Party says if re-elected it will make all prisons working prisons by 2017. It announced its corrections policy this afternoon at the Wiri Prison site in South Auckland.
At present, three of the country's prison are working ones, and National is proposing to extend the programme to all 16 jails.
National's corrections spokesperson Anne Tolley says under the policy, every eligible prisoner will have a structured 40-hour-a-week timetable to include work experience, skills training and education.
Mrs Tolley said working prisons give inmates the opportunity to learn good habits and take responsibility for their lives.
"For many prisoners this will be a new experience, so every prisoner in a New Zealand prison will have the opportunity to make a positive contribution to society when they are released and they will have that experience of having to work a full working week."
Mrs Tolley said inmates cannot be compelled to work or study, but they would face penalties if they do not take part, which could include having their unwillingness to work noted at parole hearings.
Prisoners would keep the money they earn, though they will be charged board.
Under the corrections policy, former prisoners would also receive post-release drug addiction treatment.
Mrs Tolley said offenders who have taken part in residential drug treatment programmes while in prison, who are on parole or released on conditions, will be required to attend specialist drug and alcohol addiction aftercare programmes after they are released.
This would be introduced for up to 1000 offenders each year, at an estimated cost of up to $6 million a year.