A retired Legislative Council member has hit back at claims Ashley Youth Detention Centre will be the next Don Dale.
Former McIntyre independent MLC Greg Hall was responding to Tasmanian Prisoners Legal Service Greg Barns' comments that Ashley should be closed, the centre was in the middle of no where and it served no purpose.
But Mr Hall, who had chaired a select committee into the centre, said significant strides had been made at the facility.
"The staff in my view do a really sterling job under very difficult circumstances," he said.
"The morale, I would suggest, is not good down there because it is people sitting in offices, bureaucrats in Hobart, who are trying to find warm, fluffy solutions and it constrains the people on the ground who know what they are actually doing."
In 2017 a Royal Commission into the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre found "systemic and shocking" failures, with detainees subjected to regular, repeated and distressing mistreatment.
A right to information request outlined a number of concerns raised in the Ashley+ Approach Working Group meetings, which started in June 2017.
The group was created to define, develop, implement and monitor the introduction of a therapeutic approach at the centre.
Mr Hall said the cost of building another facility would be absolutely massive and money wouldn't be saved by relocating it.
"It is a 24/7 facility so you've got to have all those people there to run the centre and run the programs," he said.
"It is an institution of last resort, which means after every diversionary means that's where a few young people end up."
A 2016 report, Custodial Youth Justice Options Paper, outlined four options to address the needs of detainees:
- Do minimal: Continue operating the centre as normal;
- Upgrade the existing facility;
- Maintain Ashley and build an additional smaller facility;
- A single 20-bed, purpose-built facility constructed in either Hobart or Launceston; or
- Two purpose-built 12-bed secure facilities - one in Hobart and one in Launceston.
Last year the state government committed $7.3 million for a major redesign and upgrade of Ashley.
At the time of the announcement, Human Services Minister Roger Jaensch said the facility would be made fit-for-purpose and continue to improve the model of care, as part of a modern, integrated statewide therapeutic youth justice model.
The Ashley upgrade was the second cheapest capital expenditure option of the custodial report, with the construction of two new facilities - one in the North and one in the South - the most expensive at $17.74 million over two years.