Two women's open prisons are set to close as part of a shake-up of the way female offenders are treated.
HMP Askham Grange in Yorkshire and HMP East Sutton Park in Kent will close "in due course" because the changes will mean there is no longer a requirement for dedicated women's open prisons.
The mother and baby unit at HMP Holloway in north London will also close due to under-occupancy, the Ministry of Justice announced.
Female inmates will serve their sentences closer to home and will be offered skills to help find work on their release under the new reforms.
Low risk offenders will be encouraged to undertake practical training so they can seek employment following their jail term.
The reforms, announced by Lord McNally, the minister for female offenders, will mean all women's prisons will become resettlement prisons so that women are close to home and are re-integrated into society.
Lord McNally said: "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 MoJ said it will test a "pioneering" new open unit at HMP Styal in Cheshire aimed at helping women into jobs on release, with the prospect of a commercial run business at the prison that could provide training and employment for inmates.
In order to ensure there are enough prison places available for women, existing provision at HMP Eastwood Park and HMP Foston Hall will be refurbished and HMP Drake Hall will see modifications to some of its buildings.