The Current

Proposed bill takes FASD into account when sentencing offenders

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a debilitating, lifelong condition that cuts across Canadian society. But it hits very hard inside indigenous communities and could be why many indigenous offenders seem stuck in a revolving door with the justice system.
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)
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Yukon Liberal MP Larry Bagnell has tabled a private member's bill, C-235, aimed at stopping what he calls the "revolving door" of people with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) winding up before the courts over and over. 

FASD affects people of all backgrounds, but it's an issue of particular importance for indigenous Canadians, and one the Truth and Reconciliation Commission specifically cited for attention and action.    

FASD has caused the choices that I've made which has led to the criminal aspects of my life.- Russ Hilsher on FASD influencing behaviour

Bagnell says the bill proposes significant changes to the criminal code. The proposed private member's bill would mandate that the correctional system consider when an offender has FASD. An FASD diagnosis would mitigate sentencing; and the courts would recognize that treatment and support are needed in prison and after release.

While the proposed bill will raise awareness levels about FASD within the justice system, critics worry the bill may do more harm than good​.

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This segment was produced by The Current's Marc Apollonio.