• The current Don Dale youth detention centre (AAP)Source: AAP
The Northern Territory youth justice inquiry continues after a former Don Dale Youth Detention Centre director who was in charge when boys were tear-gassed said the facility was in crisis.
30 Mar 2017 - 9:57 AM  UPDATED 30 Mar 2017 - 9:57 AM

The heads of youth detention in the Northern Territory are due to appear before the youth justice inquiry today.

Yesterday it heard form former general manager Russell Caldwell, under whose watch that boys were gassed, spithooded and shackled in August 2014 after one escaped from solitary confinement and began trashing an exercise yard.

The 14-year-old had been held in isolation for 17 days straight, for up to 23 hours a day.

Mr Caldwell told the royal commission that by that point Don Dale was in crisis and he "began to lose grip on the strategic direction ... and operational matters."

He agreed poorly trained, overworked guards were dealing with teens being locked down for extended periods in filthy, disgusting and hot cells.

Mr Caldwell said laws restricting isolation periods didn't anticipate the dysfunctional scenario he had to manage in real time.

Former executive director of Northern Territory Youth Justice Salli Cohen is expected to take the stand next.

Current and former detainees, police and Aboriginal elders are also due to testify this week before the commission hands down an interim report on Friday.