Bre McAdam (November 21st, 2013)(Accessed November 28th, 2013).
Commentary by Shauna Makie
Saskatoon justice officials have come together to develop a new courtroom in Saskatoon that is dedicated to overseeing offenders living with mental health issues and cognitive disorders. The Mental Health Strategy (MHS) docket will be held twice a month at the Saskatoon Provincial Court for those living with a range of disorders in attempts to respond to the needs of offenders while dealing with the court system. The MHS will be focusing on a holistic approach to connect offenders to appropriate support and supervision services. Val Adamko summarized that the goal is to provide offender specific sentences which should reduce recidivism while promoting better rehabilitation of the offender. Leslie Allen, executive director of Saskatchewan’s Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) support network, was also in attendance and stated how the criminal justice system often becomes a revolving door for offenders living with mental illness, and in particular, that those with FASD are more inclined to struggle with decision making and maneuvering through court practices.
The recognition of the challenges faced for those living with FASD and the complexities they face in their engagement with the criminal justice system by justice officials provides hope for those advocating for this particular population of offenders. This new process will provide the courts an opportunity to slow things down and give offenders living with mental health challenges an opportunity to have a fair trial and access to external supports that may not otherwise be in place.