Scotland's only all-female jail should be demolished to make way for specialist units, according to a new report.
The Commission on Women Offenders, chaired by former Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolini QC, published its findings of an eight-month review on women in the country's criminal justice system on Tuesday.
It said Cornton Vale prison, near Stirling, should be replaced with a smaller specialist prison for long-term and high risk prisoners, as well as regional units to hold short-term and remand prisoners.
Last year, the Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland, Brigadier Hugh Monro, found that the jail was overcrowded and prisoners were still not getting the best treatment, despite an inspection report highlighting the same failings in 2009.
The number of women in prison has more than doubled over the last decade, although 75% of custodial sentences imposed on females are for six months or less.
The commission, set up last year, was tasked with finding a better way to treat female criminals, with the aim of reducing levels of reoffending.
Dame Angiolini said the majority of females who offended did so while suffering from "addiction, trauma or mental health problems".
Tuesday's report made 37 recommendations, which included providing additional powers for procurators fiscal to impose composite diversion orders which combine unpaid work and a rehabilitative programme as an alternative to prosecution.
The orders would give police new powers to issue conditional cautions directing women offenders to attend local community justice centres and hand judges the power to impose combined custodial and community sentences and suspended sentences.
It also recommended a "problem solving court" be established, providing opportunities for enhanced training for judges.
The commission said Scotland's criminal justice system needs a "radical reworking" if the number of female offenders is to be reduced.
Dame Angiolini said: "We no longer can ignore the significant cost to society of locking up women, the majority of whom have committed offences while suffering from addiction, trauma or mental health problems.
"In my 28 years as a prosecutor, I saw at first hand the tragic impact of women offending and re-offending on their victims, the local community, their families and themselves.
"Undoubtedly, some women must be in prison to protect the public and to mark the seriousness of their crime.
"But for women who are repeatedly committing lower level offences, we need to get better at tackling the root cause of their problems in the community, and allowing the community to benefit from the punishments imposed.
"We recognise the tough economic climate, significant financial constraints and increasing demands on services, therefore our recommendations are designed to be largely achieved through reconfiguration of existing funding, rather than significant new investment.
"This report focuses on practical measures that can be commenced during this parliament to reduce reoffending, reverse the increase in the female prisoner population and ultimately, and most importantly, keep the public safe from crime."
Brigadier Monro said: "For my part, I am delighted to see such positive recommendations to improve the treatment and conditions of women prisoners.
"Now, at last, I feel hopeful that conditions for female prisoners can be improved and I urge speedy and determined implementation of the commission's recommendations."
The recommendations have been presented to Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill.
Speaking when the commission was launched last year, Mr MacAskill said: "This situation cannot go on.
"I am determined that we turn the tide to improve conditions and reduce reoffending rates for female offenders for the benefit of society as a whole."