Prison sentences of less than 12 months set to be limited
Scottish Government says those who serve less than a year more likely to reoffend.
The use of short prison sentences would be limited under new plans published by the Scottish Government.
Courts would be encouraged to avoid sending offenders to jail when the sentence would be less than a year.
Ministers said prisoners who serve less than a year are nearly twice as likely to be convicted again compared to those sentenced to a community payback order.
Community Safety Minister Ash Denham stressed it was not a ban on shorter sentences and said they would still exist.
She said: "Clearly, prison remains the right option for those who pose a serious risk to public safety and sentencing decisions will remain a matter for the independent judiciary.
"However, we want to ensure courts consider the most appropriate sentence in all cases and imprison people only when there is no suitable alternative.
"Disruptive and counterproductive short prison sentences often lead to homelessness, unemployment and family breakdown - making it harder for people to reintegrate on release and increasing the likelihood that they will be drawn into a cycle of offending."