Always a hot topic in the media, FASD and the justice system has been featured in several news articles around the globe this month.
“System Failing Offenders with Alcohol-Related Brain Disability – Judge”
Following the recent Australasian Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Conference in Brisbane, Australia, the New Zealand Herald published an article titled “System failing offenders with alcohol-related brain disability – judge”, based on the keynote address at the conference. The article quotes Auckland District and Youth Court Judge Tony FitzGerald’s comments on the effect of prenatal alcohol related brain damage on offenders, stating that offenders with FASD are at greater risk of re-offence and poorer outcomes. This article highlights the importance of identifying those with FASD in New Zealand so that they can be properly dealt with in the justice system.
“Rural Judge Judges Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Differently”
Another news piece, covered by NBC’s KTUU in Alaska, provides a hopeful story on the issue. The piece, titled “Rural Judge Judges Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Differently“, covers similar issues to the above article, however the article introduces Judge Michael Jeffery in Barrow, Alaska, who is changing the way he deals with individuals with FASD in the court room. Judge Jeffery helps those with FASD cope with the justice process by taking a more personal approach. He focuses on positives in the court room, uses plain language, and has even changed bail order forms, making them easier to understand and less overwhelming for offenders with FASD. The probation office in Barrow is also catching on. Their forms are now written in plain English and in first person writing for individuals with FASD. Although allowances like these can take some effort on the part of the justice system, Barrow AK is a great example of a step in the right direction.
“Yukon MP plans private member bill on FASD”
A private members’ bill regarding individuals with FASD is one of several topics of discussion surrounding FASD and the justice system in the Yukon, as reported by CBC News. As discussed in the article, “Yukon MP Plans Private Member Bill on FASD”, MP Ryan Leef’s proposed bill acknowledges the disabilities associated with FASD and would allow judges to consider alternate sentencing options (other than incarceration) when sentencing individuals with FASD.
“I Thought I Was Just a Bad Kid”
Finally, an article from Anishinabek News titled “I thought I was just a bad kid” begins with one man’s experience with FASD, from being involved with criminal activity to graduating college and speaking about FASD to audiences. Matt St. Clair presented his story at Mississauga First Nation’s Fourth Annual FASD Conference in October. The article also covers other topics from the conference relating to FASD and justice, such as an information card created for police officers and front line worker and the Sault Community Court- an alternative to criminal court- where an individual’s mental disorder is taken into account as they go through the court process.
For more FASD and Justice related topics, visit out “Criminal Justice” category