About 100 prisoners have been approved for temporary release from jail, the NI Prison Service has said.
As part of a contingency plan to deal with Covid-19, they will be freed by Monday.
The scheme applies to individuals in the last three months of sentences and further releases are likely to follow.
Justice Minister Naomi Long approved the move on Monday – those convicted of offences like murder or domestic abuse are not eligible.
She said final numbers are likely to be below 200.
There are about 1,500 prisoners in Northern Ireland.
About 200 prison officers are currently absent from work due to coronavirus precautions, and visits to Northern Ireland’s three jails have been cancelled.