Prisons are doing a poor job of treating inmates afflicted with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, Correctional Investigator Howard Sapers told a justice and human rights committee Monday afternoon.
“The unfortunate reality is that most FASD-affected offenders come into prison undiagnosed and untreated and they remain that way,” said Sapers.
FASD is caused by an expectant mother consuming alcohol during pregnancy. Effects can include birth defects, brain and central nervous system disabilities, as well as cognitive, behavioural and emotional problems.
Sapers delivered his testimony in the context of the committee’s study of Bill C-538, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder). The intention of the bill – which was dropped from the order paper by the government last year and sent to committee for further study – was to give judges the ability to consider FASD as a mitigating factor in sentencing.
But according to Sapers, more should be done in prevention and diversion prior to, or on the day that, offenders come into contact with the criminal justice system.