The Labour-led Government is seeking advice on how to reduce the number of people in prisons with an eye to canning the previous Government's $1 billion jail build plan.
Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis says he's asking officials to examine all options to reduce the prison muster while ensuring public safety is maintained.
"It is clear that National's $1b prison build comes with a bill this country can ill afford," he said on Sunday.
The previous Government last year said it planned to spend $1b on prisons, creating 1800 more beds.
This included more double-bunking in Northland's Ngawha Prison, a new 245-bed block built at Mt Eden, and a new facility with 1500 beds.
Mr Davis said National's visionless, failed approach to law and order was a prison system bursting at the seams.
The Labour-led Government was determined to reduce the crime rate so there would be fewer victims of crime, and fewer people going to prison, he said.
There were 10,260 people in New Zealand prisons as at June 30, 2017.