Yukon MP Larry Bagnell to introduce FASD criminal code amendment
Yukon MP Larry Bagnell is introducing a private member’s bill to amend the criminal code with provisions for offenders with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. (Philippe Morin/CBC)
Yukon MP Larry Bagnell hopes to do what his Conservative predecessor could not: convince his own party to amend the criminal code with provisions for offenders with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.
Larry Bagnell’s bill would give judges the ability to order supports for offenders who are diagnosed with FASD during sentencing.
“It will allow them to have different treatment during sentencing — treatment that’s more appropriate to their condition,” Bagnell told CBC’sA New Day host Sandi Coleman.
“You can imagine these people have a very terrible time in life, a struggle in life,” he said.
“To add to their suffering by having a mismatch in their condition in the justice system is just, humanitarian-wise, unconscionable.”
Former Yukon MP Ryan Leef brought forward a similar private members bill in 2013. He said the justice system needs to recognize that people with FASD often commit crimes because of a mental illness, and treatment, not jail, might be a better option.
Bagnell is following in the footsteps of his predecessor, Conservative MP Ryan Leef, who brought forward a similar private member’s bill in 2013. A parliamentary committeeultimately dropped the recommendations, which would have allowed judges to order offenders be assessed for FASD.
This time around, Bagnell says he’s added a recommendation from the Canadian Bar Association to the bill.
“When [offenders] do get into the correctional system, it will mandate that the correctional system also recognize that they have different capabilities, different situation, different condition, and they’re treated more appropriately in the correctional system and that they have external supports, so that they don’t just come back,” Bagnell said.
Bill likely to pass?
Bagnell says the bill has a lot of support in the Yukon.
“Judges have been asking for this for a long time. A number of them see it as a revolving door,” he said.
“Yukon has been way out in front of the country in understanding the condition.”
Bagnell expects the bill will go before parliament within a year. He acknowledges that might seem like a long time.
“It is for people with FASD, but they’ve been waiting a lot longer than that, so I think that they would be pretty excited if this gets through.”
Bagnell has high hopes this bill will pass, noting that “everyone from every party spoke in favour” of Leef’s bill. Bagnell also notes that there is a new cast in Parliament now.
“Hopefully they will have even better understanding and sentiment towards this sad and unfortunate condition and be very supportive.”
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Edmonton and Area Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Network.