People who have been sentenced to up to four years in prison will no longer have to declare their convictions for life under new reforms.
The government has banned prisoners from watching 18-rated movies, but they can still get their hands on some jail-break classics.
Senior probation officers have criticised Government's plans to involve private and charity groups in the supervision of offenders.
Convicted murderers Peter Chester and George McGeoch have lost a Supreme Court battle today over the right to vote while in jail.
David Cameron previously said the idea of giving prisoners the vote made him feel "physically ill".
The Supreme Court will today rule whether prisoners will have the right to vote in the next election.
Speaking in November 2010, Mr Cameron said: "It makes me physically ill to even contemplate giving the vote to anyone who is in prison. Frankly when people commit a crime and go to prison they should lose their rights including the right to vote."
However, the Attorney General Dominic Grieve has warned that it would be a "serious matter" if Britain defied the ruling and could lead to a significant amount of compensation having to be paid out.
The sister of Peter Chester, one of the prisoners campaigning for the right to vote, said she "absolutely hates him" and "hopes he rots" in prison for murdering her daughter.
Chester raped and strangled his seven-year-old niece, Donna-Marie Gillbanks in 1977.
Prisoners will find out later today whether they will have the right to vote in the next election, as judges at the Supreme Court rule on a controversial case which says EU law allows inmates to vote.
Convicted murderers Peter Chester and George McGeoch, who were imprisoned separately both brought cases claiming EU law and treaties give them the right to vote.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has already told the UK to end the blanket ban on prisoners voting.
Last year the Government prepared a bill to allow some prisoners to vote, as it admitted there would have to be some change to the law.
However, the Government's two top legal advisors urged judges to rule against the cases and encouraged the court to "take its own course".
A document sent to senior prison staff and seen by The Times said:
You will no doubt be aware that the decision has been made that the time is right for the prison estate to adopt a tobacco and smoke-free policy to provide a smoke-free workplace/environment for our staff and prisoners.
It went on to say that the prisons involved in the pilot scheme would be selected from the South West.
The smoking ban introduced in England in 2007 restricted smoking in prisons but allowed inmates to light up in their cells.
There are fears that the ban could cause disruption in prisons, with around 80% of inmates in England and Wales believed to smoke according to the NHS.
Steve Gillan, general secretary of the Prison Officers' Association, told The Times that introducing the ban would be difficult.
There is no pretending otherwise.
It could cause disturbances but they have done it successfully in Canada and in young offender institutions in England and Wales.
We welcome this move. It is our policy to have smoke-free prisons for our members.
We will work with the ministry to make sure it works effectively.
Inmates could soon be banned from smoking at prisons in England and Wales, the Ministry of Justice has said.
A pilot scheme which will monitor how prisoners react to the move is being planned by the Government but sites have not yet been chosen.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: "We are considering banning smoking across the prison estate and as part of this are looking at possible sites as early adopters."
The pilot scheme is expected to launch in the spring of next year and if successful the ban would be rolled out across all prisons within 12 months, The Times newspaper reported.
If the Government wants reoffending rates to drop, then they must tackle the overcrowding problem, said Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform.
– Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform
At last, we have the picture of the real state of overcrowding in our prisons. It's far worse than anyone imagined: one in four people behind bars are packed like sardines into cramped cells....
If the Ministry of Justice is serious about reducing reoffending it must tackle overcrowding now. Successive governments have peddled the lie that you can build your way out of a prisons overcrowding problem.
After three men were charged with taking a prison guard hostage at a York jail, Rakesh Sarin from The Crown Prosecution Service said:
– Rakesh Sarin, CPS
It is alleged that on May 26 2013 Feroz Khan, Fuad Awale and David Watson, all of whom were at that time prisoners at HMP Full Sutton, unlawfully imprisoned a prison officer and detained him against his will. They will be jointly charged with one count of false imprisonment, contrary to common law.
A number of demands were made during the incident which resulted in the case being handled by counter-terrorism officers and specialist prosecutors.
Three prisoners will be charged with allegedly taking a guard hostage after an investigation by counter-terror police.
Feroz Khan, Fuad Awale and David Watson, who were all inmates at HMP Full Sutton in North Yorkshire, are accused of false imprisonment on May 26 when it is claimed they held a prison officer against his will.
Khan and Awale are also accused of threatening to kill the officer, and Khan will be charged with grievous bodily harm on the guard, and assault occasioning actual bodily harm on a second officer.