Criminal Justice

The Criminal Justice System

One of the most comprehensive global studies of a youth detainee population and an Australian first has indicated that the prevalence of FASD in youth detention in Western Australia is 36 percent of detainees, and the presence of severe neurodevelopmental impairment is as high as 89 percent; rates, as noted by the researchers to be the highest in the world.

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and youth justice: a prevalence study among young people sentenced to detention in Western Australia

The results of this WA study are relevant to every Australian state and territory government and community.

People working in the justice system such as police, lawyers, judicial officers and corrective services officers (youth justice officers, custodial staff) need to understand the underlying reasons for the behaviour of children, young people and adults who come into contact with the justice system either as victims, suspects or witnesses. They need to be aware of the characteristics and behaviours of people with FASD so they can identify and deal effectively with them.

In particular children and young people who become involved with the justice system should be referred for neurodevelopmental assessment to identify impairments and services to reduce the risk of harm to both themselves and others, and break the cycle of reoffending.

Australian FASD multidisciplinary diagnostic clinics and individual FASD informed health professionals can be found in the FASD HUB Australia Service Directory

Australian Resources

Young Offenders must be screened for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder before sentencing – Professor Elizabeth Elliott

What justice professionals can do – A range of resources for Justice Professionals on the FASD Hub Australia website

FASD and Justice Videos – a series of videos from the Telethon Kids Institute

Equality before the Law Bench Book  section 4.1.8.1 (Department of Attorney General WA)

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: Knowledge, Attitudes and Practice within the Western Australia Justice System (Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, funded by FARE

International Resources

FASD Legal Resources – The Asante Centre Canada

Forensic Scholars Today – Special FASD Edition

FASD and Justice Canada –  information related to FASD and its impact on various aspects of the justice system, from investigation to sentencing and corrections

FASD Guidebook for Police Officers

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