CBC News (November 19th, 2013) (Accessed November 24th, 2013)
Commentary by Krystal Glowatski
Ryan Leef, a Yukon MP, is in the process of writing a private members bill that recognizes FASD as a unique issue within the justice system. The bill recognizes that although the Conservative government embraces a “tough on crime” mandate, those with FASD require innovative responses in order to address the needs they bring with them into the CJS. Leef says, “…jail is[n’t] always the best solution…treatment, not jail, might be a better option.”
Leef also recognizes that diagnosis of FASD is complicated. While FASD is not an excuse from responsibility for one’s actions, such as criminal offences, it is important to find creative and effective ways of addressing the issue of FASD. This is a big step for practitioners and advocates. Out of the Consensus Development Conference on FASD and Legal Issues in Edmonton, AB, there was an amazing array of recommendations put forth by the Jury. After the closing ceremonies where the draft of recommendations was reviewed, there were mixed opinions flowing through the crowd. While some viewed the consensus statement as the breakthrough they’d been waiting for, others felt this would remain a document of recommendations, not to be re-visited and given the opportunity to instate real change. Leef’s bill has been called just the opening part of a discussion on FASD and the criminal justice system. In fact, FASD was a topic of interest “during a recent meeting of federal, territorial, and provincial justice ministers.”
Even if the all of the recommendations from the Consensus Development Conference aren’t implemented, I think it’s safe to say the discussions are happening. We are moving in the direction of change, and into an environment of fostering proper supports for those offenders who have FASD.