The State Government will consider building a $24 million prison in Northern Tasmania as part of a proposed revamp of Tasmania's ailing prison system.
A parliamentary report recommends that the 39-year-old Risdon Prison be replaced because, according to former prison head Ben Marris, conditions there are no better than a zoo.
The 190-page Legislative Council select committee report into Tasmania's correctional services, released yesterday, would see the construction of two prisons _ one in the North and one in the South.
They would cost a total of $48 million and save the Government at least $2 million a year on the existing prison.
The committee, comprising Launceston MLC Don Wing, Mersey MLC Geoff Squibb and Wellington MLC Doug Parkinson, was highly critical of Tasmania's current prison facilities, particularly the Risdon Prison complex and the Hayes Prison Farm.
"Conditions in most parts run from inferior to appalling and there is a degree of urgency to replace the Risdon maximum security prison as soon as possible," Mr Wing said.
Attorney-General Peter Patmore also welcomed proposals for home detention, periodic detention and community services orders for minor offenders, such as fine defaulters and first-time offenders.
Sources say that a likely site for the Northern prison would be Deloraine, site of the Ashley Detention Centre.