AN ASHLEY Youth Detention Centre policy that allows staff to punish detainees by locking them in their room without a mattress for a day could be in violation of international human rights standards.
The Department of Health and Human Services said that detainees who persistently refused to take part in required activities may have their mattress taken away while the activities were on.
``Mattresses may be removed where there is a risk they may be wilfully damaged,'' custodial youth justice manager Bill Smith said.
``Or as a last resort to prevent young persons simply remaining in bed during the day when they are refusing to participate in a program which is required as part of their detention.''
``Mattresses are always returned at the end of the day in time for residents to sleep.''
Tasmanian Commissioner for Children Aileen Ashford said the policy was ``questionable''.
``I would question their operational procedure in using these means to control behaviour,'' Ms Ashford said.
``It's contrary, really, to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child and the principles of treating young people with dignity and respect.''
Ms Ashford said she had never received a report of a young person having their mattress taken away, despite regularly receiving calls from detainees on other issues.
Australian Lawyers Alliance spokesman Greg Barns said Ashley should be closed.
``It is a windswept undergraduate school for Risdon Prison and (Children's Minister Michelle O'Byrne's) department is putting the lives of young people at risk both in the short and long term,'' Mr Barns said.
Mr Barns said he had also received reports of Ashley detainees being isolated in their rooms for extended periods of time.
Mr Smith said solitary confinement was not permitted or used at Ashley, but said some detainees graded at ``level blue'' because they posed an immediate threat to others or were an escape risk may have limited access to some areas or only be allowed to mix with other detainees for a limited time.
``Ashley encourages positive behaviour in young people to help them function in mainstream society,'' he said.
Ms O'Byrne said she supported Ashley staff.