Understanding the needs of justice-involved adults with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder in an Indigenous community

Flannigan, K., Tremblay, M., Potts, S., Nelson, M., Brintnell, S., O’Riordan, T., Rasmussen, C., & Pei, J. (2021). Understanding the needs of justice-involved adults with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder in an Indigenous community. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 1– 15. https://doi.org/10.1002/bsl.2554


Individuals with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) experience a range of neurodevelopmental challenges, often compounded by social and environmental adversity. One of the most concerning outcomes that can be associated with FASD is involvement in the justice system, where individuals with FASD are vastly over-represented. Individuals with FASD who are both justice-involved and Indigenous experience added layers of marginalization.

In this community-based study, we explored the needs of 16 adults who participated in an FASD-informed restorative justice program in an Indigenous community in Alberta, Canada. Clinical record reviews and client interviews were used to gather information. Diverse needs were identified, including pervasive neurodevelopmental difficulties, notable physical and mental health challenges, complex experiences of psychosocial trauma, and varied criminogenic needs.

This study increases our understanding of the unique and complex biopsychosocial and criminogenic needs of Indigenous justice-involved adults with FASD. Such an understanding is a first step in developing tailored interventions for individuals with FASD and has important practice and policy implications for supporting positive outcomes. For Indigenous individuals with FASD, intervention efforts should be integrated within the community context to promote collective healing.

Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/bsl.2554

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