The First Minister revealed a series of popular measures aimed at deterring crime and cutting anti-social behaviour which will go before the Scottish Parliament in the coming year.
Under the plans, automatic early release will be ended for violent offenders sentenced to more than 10 years and sex offenders given more then four years in prison.
At present, they are freed automatically after two-thirds of their sentence, but those sentenced after the new law is passed will face a parole hearing.
The measure will be introduced through changes to the criminal justice bill already going through parliament and will affect about 100 criminals per year.
On average 35 people are sentenced to more than 10 years for violent crimes including culpable homicide and attempted murder. The latest figures for sex offenders show 75 received more than four years in 2011/12.
Ending automatic early release was an SNP election pledge in 2007 and will attract wide support from opposition parties.
Addressing a packed Holyrood chamber for the annual set-piece programme for government speech, Mr Salmond said it had been made possible by scrapping short jail sentences which has eased pressure on Scotland's crowded jails.
The move stood out from a programme of 13 new bills and a further 11 already making their way through Holyrood.
The Government will also introduce licensing schemes for air guns and lap dancing clubs, toughen up the monitoring of taxis and scrap metal dealers and make it an offence to buy alcohol on behalf of under-18s.
The right to buy council and social housing, already heavily regulated, will be outlawed in a bid to stop 15,500 homes being sold off over the next 10 years. Tenants will be given a three-year period of grace to buy their home after the legislation is passed.
In a move to strengthen local communities, groups will be handed powers to buy unused public land or buildings, an initiative dubbed the urban right to buy.
Reform of the civil justice system will see many minor cases, including the bulk of personal injury disputes, moved from the Court of Session to sheriff courts.
The Government will also seek to speed up personal injury cases with a damages bill and streamline laws on bankruptcy and contracts.
Among the 11 unfinished bills, MSPs will continue to consider laws allowing same-sex marriage and those paving the way for the referendum.
The First Minister used his speech to press the case for independence 380 days, as he reminded MSPs, from the referendum.
He argued his seventh legislative programme since becoming First Minister continued a tradition of popular and relevant government from Holyrood which proved "beyond peradventure that taking decisions in Scotland works for individuals, families and communities".
He said: "Why should we rely on a Westminster system to take decisions - many of which, like the bedroom tax, have been utterly misguided - when we have proved over the last 14 years that we as a parliament are more than capable of delivering real progress for the people of Scotland?
"The value of Scotland's parliament is further demonstrated by this programme for government."
However, Scottish Labour Leader Johann Lamont dismissed the programme as "unambitious, lacklustre and moribund". She added: "He could have brought forward a legislative programme that met this one crucial test - that it would put the interests of the people of Scotland before the interests of the SNP.
"He has completely failed. We no longer have a government, we have a campaign."
Scots Tory leader Ruth Davidson welcomed the partial ending of automatic early release but said the move did not go far enough.
Green MSPs criticised the absence of new measures to tackle climate change.
Cancer Research UK voiced disappointment at the Scottish Government's failure to promise a bill requiring plain packs for cigarettes, following speculation a new law might be introduced.