Economist Vicky Pryce, who spent two months in prison earlier this year, has said that women behind bars have "special needs".
She said it was not a case of making prison "softer" for female offenders, but of minimising the wider impact and costs on society.
Pryce was sentenced to eight months in prison in March for perverting the course of justice by taking speeding points for her former husband Chris Huhne in 2003.
Labour's shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan has described the government's prison reforms as "tinkering around the edges" of the problem.
Khan told Daybreak that it should be investing in more women's treatment centres and more smaller prisons. He said in an earlier statement: "With only a small number of scattered women’s prisons, the concept of local resettlement is almost meaningless."
When a female offender walks out of the prison gates, I want to make sure she never returns.
Keeping female prisoners as close as possible to their homes, and importantly their children, is vital if we are to help them break the pernicious cycle of re-offending.
And providing at least a year of support in the community, alongside the means to find employment on release, will give them the best possible chance to live productive, law abiding lives.
The new plan to try and tackle female offending is being set out to work alongside Transforming Rehabilitation reforms in which every offender receives 12 months of tailored support as they leave prison.
With the aim of trying to cut reoffending and trigger further falls in the female prison population, a new open unit at HMP Styal is to focus on helping women into jobs on release.
Several reports to be published later today, including The Government's response to the Justice Select Committee report on Women Offenders: After the Corston Report and the NOMS Women's Custodial Estate Review, are set to help feed in to the new approach towards tackling female offending.
Female inmates will serve their sentences closer to home and will be offered skills to help find work upon their release under new reforms revealed.
Under the proposals, low risk offenders will be encouraged to undertake practical training so they can seek employment following their jail term.
The reforms, unveiled by Justice minister Lord McNally, who is also the minister for female offenders, call for all women's prisons to become resettlement prisons so that women are close to home and are re-integrated into society.
Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: "Trying to improve women's imprisonment would be a waste when the best way to reduce women's offending is to invest in treatment for addictions, mental healthcare, training for work and safe housing away from domestic violence and abuse."
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "We treat the security of information very seriously and took immediate steps to recover the data as soon as the loss was reported to ensure that it went no further.
"These types of incidents are extremely rare but this does not mean that we are complacent.
"A thorough investigation was held by the prison who immediately altered their procedures, and further changes were implemented across the prison estate."
The potential damage and distress that could have been caused by this serious data breach is obvious.
Disclosing this information not only had the potential to put the prisoners at risk, but also risked the welfare of their families through the release of their home addresses.
Fortunately it appears that the fall-out from this breach was contained, but we cannot ignore the fact that this breach was caused by a clear lack of management oversight of a relatively new member of staff.
Furthermore the prison service failed to have procedures in place to spot the original mistakes.
It is only due to the honesty of a member of the public that the disclosures were uncovered as early as they were and that it was still possible to contain the breach.
The Ministry of Justice is to be fined £140,000 by the data watchdog after the personal details of all 1,182 prisoners at a jail were mistakenly emailed to inmates' families.
A spreadsheet containing sensitive information including names, ethnicity, addresses, sentence length, release dates and details of the offences by all inmates at HMP Cardiff was sent to three families, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said.
The breach was only discovered when one of the recipients contacted the prison on August 2, 2011 to report they had received an email from the prison clerk about an upcoming visit, which included the file.
The ICO found there was a clear lack of management oversight at the prison, with the clerk working unsupervised despite only having worked at the prison for two months and having limited experience and training.
The Ministry of Justice said Baby P's mother Tracey Connelly will be subject to strict controls and restrictions following her release from prison for as long as is required.
A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said:
The release of life and other indeterminate sentence prisoners is directed by the independent Parole Board once they are satisfied they can be safely managed in the community.
The IPP [imprisonment for public protection] licence lasts for a minimum of 10 years, and an offender on an IPP licence may be recalled to prison at any time for breaching their licence conditions.
A bidding competition for £450 million-worth of probation service contracts across England and Wales was opened to the private and voluntary sectors by the Ministry of Justice.