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April 16th, 2016 The Current on CBC radio presented an episode on Bill C-235 proposed by Liberal MP Larry Bagnell introduced in January of this year. Bill C-235 targets those affected by fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) that are seemingly caught in the “revolving door” of the criminal justice system in Canada. Offenders involved in the Canadian criminal justice system are often a forgotten demographic of individuals with limited access to effective FASD specific interventions and community transitional programs. 

For more information on Bill C-235 or to listen to the full CBC radio program on this topic please click the above links.

In order to better support those affected by FASD in the Canadian criminal justice system Bill C-235 is proposing the following changes in legislation:

  • Access to assessments for individuals suspected of having FASD

  • Allowing assessment to inform sentencing of these offenders

  • Reintegration plan for community transitions

The CBC radio episode features an interview with Russ Hilsher who has FASD and is a spokesperson for Initiatives for Just communities and discusses his personal experience in the Canadian criminal justice system and the need for programs and services for individuals with FASD involved in this system. As well as discussions on the proposed Bill C-235  with Jonathan Rudin, program director of Aboriginal Legal services and chair of FASD Justice Committee and Dan Brodsky, criminal defense lawyer with the Association in the Defense of the Wrongly Convicted

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Image source: http://lethbridgeherald.com/news/local-news/2015/09/12/women-help-guide-fasd-clients-in-judicial-system/

The Lethbridge Herald recently published an article titled “Women help guide FASD clients in judicial system” highlighting the work of two Lethbridge Regional Police workers (and a therapy dog!) in their efforts to help individuals with FASD navigate the justice system and to help the justice system understand FASD.

Adult FASD Justice Program Co-ordinator Sabrina Hacker and Youth FASD Justice Program Co-ordinator Roberta Smallbones act as advocates for individuals with FASD and as a source of reliable information about FASD for justice professionals. As for the dog: he provides a calming presence, relieving stress and anxiety for clients.

Read the article to learn more about the work being done by these individuals in Lethbridge.

Visit the KnowFASD justice page to learn more about FASD and trouble with the law and to view intervention resources and links.

KnowFASD

After what seems like far too long, KnowFASD is back in operation! To those of you who use the site regularly and have been waiting for its return, thank you for your patience.

If you have never visited the site, please feel free to drop by and check it out! Take a browse through the interactive home page and learn more/find help on the site’s wiki.

Our goal with KnowFASD is to provide a comprehensive site where viewers can learn about the neurobehavioural deficits associated with FASD throughout the lifespan and link to intervention options.

The main homepage of the website is an interactive interface where viewers can scroll through the lifespan of individuals with FASD, with neurobehavioural issues at each developmental stage presented as they may appear in day-to-day life. By clicking on a neurobehavioural issue, viewers are directed to a “wiki” (which works in a similar fashion to Wikipedia) housing information from current research on the neurobehavioural issue at hand. Each wiki page discusses a specific neurobehavioural issue: how it presents, potential causes, and potential consequences. At the bottom of each page, a link is provided to topic-specific intervention options.

Please feel free to visit the site, pass it along, and give us your feedback or suggestions. Check back often as we continue to upload information, links, and resources.

Visit KnowFASD

Consensus Statement

Back in September, we posted a follow-up on the Consensus Development Conference on Legal Issues of FASD. In that post, we mentioned that the conference organizers were in the process of finalizing the consensus document and would share it with us once completed so that we could distribute it to our readers.

That time is here! The Institute of Health Economics sent us the finalized document yesterday along with a link for a complete video library of all of the presentations from the conference.  (See links at end of blog post)

To recap:

The three-day conference featured presentations from experts in the field of FASD on a broad range of topics concerning FASD as a disorder and its relation to the justice system. Legal experts attended the conference and wrote a consensus document highlighting the information they had garnered from the presentations.

The goal of the conference was to provide answers to the following questions:

1. What are the implications of FASD for the legal system?

2. Is there a need for enhanced efforts to identify people with FASD, and how can these efforts be achieved?

3. How can the criminal justice system respond more effectively to those with FASD?

4. How can family courts and the family/child welfare legal system address the specific needs of people with FASD?

5. What are the best practices for guardianship, trusteeship and social support in a legal context?

6. What legal measures are there in different jurisdictions to contribute to the prevention of FASD, and what are the ethical and economic implications of these measures?

Links:

Consensus Statement on Legal Issues of FASD (finalized document from IHE and Alberta Government)

Videos of all conference presentations

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”

New Zealand Herald

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”

Barrow

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” 

Yuknow 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

News from the Consensus Development Conference on Legal Issues of FASD

FASD-Legal-Conference_01

The Consensus Development Conference on Legal Issues of FASD wrapped up Friday Sept. 18, 2013 in Edmonton.

A quick update for those who were not in attendance: The three day conference featured presentations from experts in the field of FASD on a broad range of topics concerning FASD as a disorder and its relation to the justice system. A “jury” of legal experts attended the conference and, following the second day of presentations, wrote a consensus document highlighting the information they had garnered from the presentations. Also included in this document were recommendations for the justice system based on information from presentations. The consensus document was well received by speakers and attendees alike.

Specific questions addressed by the jury’s consensus document included:

1. What are the implications of FASD for the legal system?

2. Is there a need for enhanced efforts to identify people with FASD, and how can these efforts be achieved?

3. How can the criminal justice system respond more effectively to those with FASD?

4. How can family courts and the family/child welfare legal system address the specific needs of people with FASD?

5. What are the best practices for guardianship, trusteeship and social support in a legal context?

6. What legal measures are there in different jurisdictions to contribute to the prevention of FASD, and what are the ethical and economic implications of these measures?

Included in the consensus document was the recommendation that conditional sentences be allowed for individuals with FASD. The Montreal Gazette featured this recommendation in a recent article titled “Panel says Criminal Code should allow conditional sentences for people with FASD”

Montreal Gazette FASD justice conf article

Stay tuned: The conference website states that the  final draft of the consensus document will be made available to those interested in the subject. We have contacted the conference organizers to get the scoop on where the document will be distributed and will let you know once we have heard back.

FASD and the justice system continues to be a hot topic. A CBC news article recently highlighted the unique difficulties associated with supporting those with FASD In the justice system, focusing on a lack of FASD programs in the correctional system in Nunavut. The issue in Nunavut in this particular article arises from the case of a young man with FASD convicted of sexual assault. In a previous related article, CBC describes the judge’s request for creativity in sentencing- based on the common difficulties faced by those with FASD in the justice system.

To learn more about FASD and the justice system, visit the iNAT’s KnowFASD page on the issue and search through the KnowFASD “Trouble with the Law: Intervention Options” webpage for links to solution-based resources including a link to presentations from UBC’s “5th National Biennial Conference on Adolescents and Adults with FASD: It’s a Matter of Justice”- A conference dedicated entirely to FASD and justice.

Another great site to check out is the FASD & Justice website created by the FASD Ontario Network of Expertise for an in depth look at complications, causes, solutions, case studies, scholarly articles, and more surrounding the issue.

You can access previously posted resources and past news highlights on FASD and justice by checking out our previous posts on the topic.

To learn more: Take in a conference with discussion from experts on the topic

This fall, Edmonton is host to the Consensus Development Conference on Legal Issues of FASD– a “three-day juried hearing of evidence and scientific findings that allows for the engagement and collaboration of citizens and decision makers in government and the justice system in addressing a specific set of key questions on legal issues related to FASD.”
September 18-20, 2013

knowfasd

We recently featured our newest project, KnowFASD, in the latest edition of our iNAT newsletter. For those of you who have not yet subscribed to the iNAT newsletter, here is some information about KnowFASD:

Our goal with KnowFASD is to provide a comprehensive site where viewers can learn about the neurobehavioural deficits associated with FASD throughout the lifespan and link to intervention options.

The main homepage of the website is an interactive interface where viewers can scroll through the lifespan of individuals with FASD, with neurobehavioural issues at each developmental stage presented as they may appear in day-to-day life. By clicking on a neurobehavioural issue, viewers are directed to a “wiki” (which works in a similar fashion to Wikipedia) housing information from current research on the neurobehavioural issue at hand. Each wiki page discusses a specific neurobehavioural issue: how it presents, potential causes, and potential consequences. At the bottom of each page, a link is provided to topic-specific intervention options.

Please feel free to visit the site, pass it along, and give us your feedback or suggestions. Check back often as we continue to categorize and upload information.

Visit KnowFASD

CAPHC

The Canadian Association of Paediatric Health Centres presents a new webinar entitled Identifying the  Invisible: Screening for Youth Offenders with FASD. Dr. Albert Chudley, Deepa Singal (pHD student), Dr. Howard Bloom, and Sheila Burns will present  “recent research studies that have evaluated screening tools to help identify youth involved in the justice system who are at risk for having FASD”1

The webinar will take place Friday, Mar 8, 2013 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM EST.

Register here

1- Maynard, D.  (2013/02/21).  Identifying the invisible: Screening for Youth Offenders with FASD.  Canadian Association of                                              Paediatric Health Centres.  Retrieved February 24, 2013, from http://ken.caphc.org/xwiki/bin/view/FASDScreeningToolkit/Identifying+the+invisible__Screening+for+Youth+offenders+with+FASD

**For previous posts about FASD and the criminal justice system, visit our criminal justice category.

The word is out! FASD in the justice system is a hot topic.  The topic seems to have caught the attention of researchers, reporters, and intervention programs, with numerous recent research studies, news articles, and interventions highlighting the issue. The Edmonton Journal published an article about FASD and justice on January 22, revealing one man’s experiences with FASD and the law, which follows a general trend experience by many individuals with FASD. The article discusses the gaps in our system when working with offenders with FASD. Our system punishes criminals with the assumption that offenders will learn from the consequences of their actions. Individuals with FASD often lack the ability to learn from consequence and experience, which causes repeat offences, as is the case with the individual in the article.

The article quotes a number of experts suggesting that we need to find a new way of dealing with individuals with FASD after they commit an offence and an effective way of diverting them from committing an offence in the first place. The problem lies in HOW to divert/correct criminal behaviour within this population. For the man in the article, intervention came in the form of a supportive partner, an understanding neuropsychologist who encouraged healthy practices, and an advocacy program at Edmonton’s Bissell Centre

The Bissell Centre is an agency aimed at eliminating poverty in the community. The centre hosts and number of programs and resources with the goal of self sustainability, community participation, and daily needs being met for their clients.

Read the full article

For some previous posts about FASD and the criminal justice system, check out “FASD Interventions on CBC Radio” and “FASD and Criminal Justice Interventions“.

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