Justice secretary Chris Grayling has revealed plans to introduce a "two strikes and you're out" policy for repeated violent and sexual offenders.
At the Conservative party conference in Birmingham, Grayling announced the tougher rules during a speech in which he declared that homeowners would be able to use "disproportionate" force when defending their homes.
"Everyone deserves a second chance. But those who commit the most serious offences, crimes that would attract a sentence of 10 or more years, cannot be allowed to just go on and on causing harm, distress and injury," he said.
"We are about to start another important change. It's called 'two strikes and you're out'. If you commit two serious violent or sexual offences you will get an automatic life sentence.
"Those people are a real threat to our society and we must treat them as such."
The rule is similar to the US policy of three strikes and you're out - a baseball term originally - in which people convicted of committing three of more serious offences are given life sentences.
The delegates at Birmingham also heard about changes in the law regarding the amount of force that would be acceptable for homeowners to use against burglars.
Grayling warned that the law would only be in the favour of homeowners if they did not use "grossly disproportionate" force.
He said: "None of us really know how frightening it would be if we were confronted by a burglar in the middle of the night, or how terrified we'd feel if we thought our family was in danger.
"You might well hit out in the heat of the moment, without thinking of anything but protecting your loved ones. And right now you're still not sure the law is on your side.
"Householders acting instinctively and honestly in self-defence are victims, not criminals. They should be treated that way.
"That's why we are going to deal with this issue once and for all.
"It will mean that even if a householder faced with that terrifying situation uses force that in the cold light of day might seem over the top, unless their response is grossly disproportionate, the law will be on their side."
The issue of what is the necessary amount of force used by people protecting their homes from intruders has been reintroduced following the arrest of Andy and Tracey Ferrie in September.
The pair had used a legally owned shotgun to defend themselves against burglars and initially faced charges of causing injury but were eventually released without charge.