On last week’s post, one of our readers commented on the need for support and services for teens and adults with FASD and how a lack of support often causes these individuals to end up in serious trouble. So when a neighbour of mine pointed out an article about FASD and the criminal justice system in this summer’s edition of the Canadian Bar Association’s (CBA) National Magazine, I thought it would be a relevant post.

The feature article,  “A Different Kind of Justice“, focuses on issues regarding FASD within the Canadian criminal justice system. The article states: “The criminal justice system was never designed to accommodate the reality of people affected by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder,” alluding to the assumption that offenders act willfully and are capable of remembering and learning from the consequences of their actions, which is often not the case for those with FASD.

The article also discusses progress in finding solutions for those with FASD in the justice system, particularly in the Yukon, and provides a number of measures suggested by the CBA Advisory Committee and members of the Federal Provincial Territorial FASD Steering Committee to improve justice for people with FASD. The CBA website offers a more detailed summary of these measures from a meeting between the two committees last March.

As last week’s reader’s comment and the article both express, the most important course of action will be to give those with FASD appropriate supports to prevent the need for involvement in the criminal justice system in the first place. However, there are still individuals who are without adequate support and are finding themselves in trouble. On a positive note, it is encouraging that the criminal justice system in Canada is recognizing the problem and exploring solutions.

There appears to be an increasing awareness of the shortcomings of our system and a desire to make a change. Earlier this year, the University of British Columbia’s 4th International Conference on FASD included a plenary and panel session on this topic, where similar issues and solutions were discussed. Webcasts and presentations from the conference are available online.

To our readers

We would love to hear more from you! Are there intervention programs for adults with FASD in your community? Do you have a success story you would like to share?