Researchers discuss FASD and criminal justice
REGINA—Although many people living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) are not violent, that segment of the population still has a high incidence of involvement with the criminal justice system.
“We know that people with FASD are overrepresented — both as offenders, but also as victims — within the justice system. And, we know that in many places around the country, people with FASD are also overrepresented among those who are incarcerated,” said Amy Salmon, executive director of The Canada Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Research Network (CanFASD).
CanFASD was in Regina on Thursday for its annual general meeting and a discussion forum for researchers at the Saskatchewan Legislative Building.
Michelle Stewart’s research involves the role mental health disposition courts in Regina and Saskatchewan can have as an alternative justice practice for people with cognitive and intellectual disorders, including FASD.
“So, what we need, when it is possible, is a justice system that understands this person might not actually be purposefully doing the acts that they appear to be doing,” said Stewart, an assistant professor in the Department of Justice Studies at the University of Regina and CanFASD’s strategic research lead for justice issues (and interventions).
Alternative justice practices and courts can bring together other resources that can try and identify missing supports in the community and work together to help someone with FASD, she explained.