Nearly 4,000 serial offenders were spared jail last year, despite some having as many as 50 previous convictions.
The number of "super prolific" criminals in England and Wales who were convicted but not sent to prison tripled from 1,299 in 2007 to 3,916 in 2018, according to a report by thinktank, Onward.
Authored by Conservative MP Neil O’Brien, the report calls for a review of sentencing in light of the figures.
He has called on whoever becomes the new Prime Minister to “invest seriously” in building more prisons to make room for reoffenders and eliminate overcrowding.
The MP for Harborough also wants more to be done to tackle drug addiction, which he says is "one of the main causes of prolific offending".
Mr O’Brien called for more legislative controls so that judges are required to treat repeat offenders more severely.
“It’s just ludicrous that somebody being convicted for a hundredth time gets a sentence that is much shorter, four months on average, than someone who is going down for the first time,” he told talkRADIO's Mike Graham.
When asked about the effectiveness of shorter sentences and rehabilitation, the former Number 10 adviser said he saw a “really clear correlation between jailing people and lowering crime".
He also praised the work of the police in making arrests and gathering evidence: “The least we can do is make their work meaningful by giving the people that they managed to convict a proper jail sentence.”
Over the last ten years, a total of 32,000 offenders with more than 50 previous convictions were spared from prison.