Under new proposals, an extra 3,500 prisoners could have to give samples which would then be added to the national DNA database.
The aim is to deter sex offenders from committing further crimes or to help police to catch them if they re-offend.
The proposal is set out in the consultation paper 'Sentencing and Supervision of Sex Offenders' which also proposes:
-- requiring convicted sex offenders to notify the police of their address and any subsequent moves
-- creating a new offence of looking for a job involving access to children, thus placing the onus on criminals not to look for inappropriate employment
-- restricting defendants' access to victim statements and photographs in sex cases. This is to prevent the perverted use of them as pornography
The DNA proposal would mean that sex offenders who were imprisoned before the implementation of the relevant provisions of the 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act will be required to give samples.
Mr Howard said today: 'There needs to be better protection from those who carry out sexual offences.
'Such crimes can have a devastating effect on the victim.
'I have already proposed that criminals who commit a second serious violent or sexual offence should be given an automatic life sentence. But more can be done to deal with those who carry out such crimes.
'The government believes that we need to strengthen the arrangements for supervising convicted sex offenders after they are released from custody.
'This will provide greater protection for the public and improve the opportunity for such offenders to deal with their offending behaviour.'
This consultation paper follows the White Paper 'Protecting the Public - the Government's Strategy on Crime in England and Wales', which proposes amongst other things that those convicted for a second time of a serious sexual or violent offence will receive an automatic life sentence.