More NSW prisons could become privately operated under reforms announced by the state government.
The NSW government has pledged to improve standards at the state's overcrowded prisons by lifting capacity and opening up at least one jail to a possible private takeover.
An extra 1100 prison beds will be rolled out and the future of the state-run John Morony Correctional Centre west of Sydney will be decided through a competitive tender between the public and private sectors, Corrections Minister David Elliott said on Sunday.
Performance targets and budget benchmarks will be developed, and state-run jails which can't keep up will also be opened up to competitive tenders, Mr Elliott said.
A review of inmate education was under way after too many prisoners were leaving jail without basic job skills, leading to a 48 per cent reoffending rate, he said.
"In order to get the best value for money for taxpayers, and the best outcomes for our prisoners, our prisons need to go beyond simply just locking people up," Mr Elliott told reporters in Sydney.
The announcement was welcomed by Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin, who said there had been unprecedented growth in the NSW prison population.
He said staff at John Morony Correctional Centre had his full empathy, and vowed to constructively communicate with all offices involved.
"This is not a vote of no confidence by any stretch of the imagination," he told reporters.
"This clearly is an opportunity for us to sharpen the pencil (and) also to make improvements that are urgently needed."
Cessnock Correctional Centre in the Hunter Valley will undergo a major expansion with 620 more beds.
And 160 extra beds will be installed at Nowra's South Coast Correctional Centre.
Mr Elliott said the government was also considering other options to increase capacity, including reopening Parramatta Correctional Centre.
The tender for John Morony Correctional Centre is due to be released in July, with a winner to be announced in February.