Westville prison in KwaZulu-Natal is overcrowded and houses more than 9000 offenders, regional prison commissioner Mnikelwa Nxele said on Friday.
"We have about 9768 offenders but we are still overcrowded, because the official capacity is 6000," Nxele said.
Nxele was speaking during a visit by newly-appointed Correctional Services Minister Sibusiso Ndebele and National Commissioner Tom Moyane to the Durban prison.
"We normally have about 11,000 offenders, but because of the recent presidential pardon our numbers have decreased," Nxele said.
Ndebele said overcrowding was a problem that needed to be tackled in an innovative way.
He said in some countries offenders who were not a danger to society worked from Monday to Friday.
They would report to the prison at 4pm on a Friday and were released back to society on Sunday. In this way, sentences were being served in increments.
"There are various ways that we are going to explore and we'll take [from] international experience," he said.
Ndebele interacted with offenders at the youth centre and encouraged them to study.
"Prison is the best place to look at yourself. You are not responsible for falling but you are responsible for picking yourself up," Ndebele told the young offenders.
KwaZulu-Natal has six prisons. They should be staffed by about 9000 people but had to make do with 7000.
A lack of funds was to blame for the staff shortage, Nxele said.