Lawyer David Boulding has become an expert on FASD: Candid talk, wise advice on fetal alcohol problems

Lawyer David Boulding has become an expert on FASD: Candid talk, wise advice on fetal alcohol problems

By Wendy Fraser, Lillooet News (October 23rd, 2013) (Accessed October 27th, 2013)

Commentary by Shauna Makie

Criminal lawyer David Boulding was invited by the Lillooet Community Partners Resource Group (LCPRG) in Lillooet, B.C. to give a daylong seminar on the topic of FASD, followed by an evening panel discussion. Boulding described FASD as an education, social, police, medical, familial, community and national problem. His discussion emphasized that while dealing with someone with FASD, the issues are not to be considered as “non-compliant”, but as “non-competence”.

Boulding attended a Chamber of Commerce luncheon that was described as “not well-attended” and was acknowledged as such: “What’s wrong with this picture? This is the problem” stated Boulding. He indicated that FASD is one of the most perplexing issues in the legal system and ranges of FASD in prison populations can be from 30-80%.  Boulding also highlighted that the issue of FASD is not isolated to minority populations, he was quoted stating “women who drink the most while pregnant have four years of university, are white, and earn 400 per cent above the poverty line”.  The recognition of the diversity for those touched by FASD is important while discussing the matter. It is not an isolated population that receives diagnosis’, it is however often misdiagnosed for those in the upper classes as attention deficit rather than FASD.  Boulding reminded listeners that it is the community that is needed to provide those with FASD an external brain to help fill the parts of their brain that is missing.

Concerns over FASD funding review

Concerns over FASD funding review

Concerns over FASD funding review

By Heather Meagher, SBS News (October 15th, 2013) (Accessed: October 17th, 2013)

Commentary by Krystal Glowatski

This article addresses the need for FASD funding in Australia.  Previously, 20 million dollars was pledged to FASD by the Australian government, however it is unclear by this article if that money is for research, prevention, or support.  What is clear is that FASD is a major issue in Australia.  The funds that were previously set aside for FASD is now in jeopardy under the new government.

The article points out that, “…half of pregnancies are unplanned and with women binge-drinking more than ever, advocates say this funding is crucial.”  Alcohol abuse, and subsequently, FASD have become hot topics in Australia.  Currently a prevalence research study is being conducted in Fitzroy Crossing called “Marulu: The Lililwan Project”  (See: http://depts.washington.edu/fmffasd/fitzroy-valley for more information).  While alcohol use has been surrounded by research and debate, the rates of FASD in Australian communities is still largely unknown.

What we do know is the range of effects FASD can have on an individual who was exposed to alcohol in utero.  The young woman, Morgan, interviewed in this article has FASD and experiences struggles such as cognitive functioning (problems remembering and understanding) and behavioural issues such as frustration and anger.  While this young woman experiences such inflictions and has shown bravery in publicly discussing her disorder, many others in Australia and indeed, around the world, perhaps don’t even understand that they too are affected by FASD.  Funding is certainly needed to help those: 1) who are dealing with FASD daily, such as Morgan, 2) who don’t yet know what they’re dealing with, in determining a diagnosis, and 3) who are not born yet but have the potential to be effected by FASD.

To hear a recent interview with Morgan about her experience with FASD, see:

http://www.sbs.com.au/insight/episode/watchonline/581/Drinking-When-Pregnant

Northern News Services: Judge laments lack of help for offenders with FASD: Suggests defence lawyers become advocates for clients who are struggling with conditions

Judge laments lack of help for offenders with FASD: Suggests defence lawyers become advocates for clients who are struggling with conditions

By: Miranda Scotland, Northern News Services (September 7, 2013) (Accessed: September 25, 2013)

Commentary by: Krystal Glowatski

The article outlines the first case in Nunavut to address sentencing issues surrounding FASD.  In the case of 23-year-old Peter Joamie, charged and found guilty of sexual assault, the offender was handed a sentence of one year to 13 months, as requested by the Crown.  The judge outlines the lack of services available to individuals with FASD in Nunavut; alternatively, FASD is being addressed through prevention and community awareness.  Although prevention and awareness are beneficial, there is a serious need for services available to people already affected by FASD.  The judge explained that “The Baffin Correctional Centre’s 18-bed Katak Unit is fast becoming a warehouse for the mentally ill, for those suffering from FASD, and for those who are otherwise vulnerable and needing protection.”  The phenomenon of warehousing FASD individuals in prisons is not unique to Nunavut; however, the situation is expounded in a community that is so drastically depleted in available services.  While the Crown requested what the judge refered to as a “generous” sentence, the defence neglected to provide evidence of Joamie’s condition.  As the title of this article suggests, defence lawyers need to disclose such information where it may be considered in sentencing an offender.  As was recently discussed at the Consensus Development Conference on FASD and Legal Issues in Edmonton, AB, issues surrounding FASD need to be taken into account during the legal process.  Many recommendations came out of the recent Consensus Development, and perhaps with time, disclosing such information will be common practice and less people with FASD will be severely impacted by the criminal justice system.  As it is now, the criminal justice system inadvertently sets these individuals up for failure.  Responsibility has to be shared among all justice professionals to begin acknowledging FASD as a serious consideration in the criminal justice process.

FASD and Legal Issues Conference – Sept 18-20 (Edmonton)

Consensus Development Conference on Legal Issues of FASD

This conference is a three-day juried hearing of evidence and scientific findings that allows for the engagement and collaboration of citizens and decision makers in government and the justice system in addressing a specific set of key questions on legal issues related to FASD. Jury Chair: The Honorable Ian Binnie, Former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. See website for full details.

Questions to be addressed at this conference:

1. What are the implications of FASD for the legal system?

2. Is there a need for enhanced efforts to identify people with FASD, and how can these efforts be achieved?

3. How can the criminal justice system respond more effectively to those with FASD?

4. How can family courts and the family/child welfare legal system address the specific needs of people with FASD?

5. What are the best practices for guardianship, trusteeship and social support in a legal context?

6. What legal measures are there in different jurisdictions to contribute to the prevention of FASD, and what are the ethical and economic implications of these measures?