The Ministry of Justice must do more to stop reoffending in England and Wales including giving probation more importance, MPs have said in a report.
The Commons Justice Committee said the ministry, and specifically the National Offender Management Service, focused too much on jails to deliver justice.
But it said the ministry had improved on previous "woeful" inefficiency.
The government said it would publish its response to a consultation on the probation service later this year.
The Ministry of Justice was created five years ago when the Home Office was in crisis and took on some of its functions as well as those of the old Department of Constitutional Affairs.
The report said that, despite teething troubles, there had been improvements under the new set-up.
But it said the department was too "in thrall" to prisons and called for probation to be given the same status by the National Offender Management Service.