'It's not good for them, it's not good for the community, it's not good for the justice system and it's not good for the health system.' - Justice Minister Alison Redford of Alberta.
Vancouver (15 Oct. 2010) - Prison is not the way to deal with offenders suffering from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), says Alberta Justice Minister Alison Redford.
She made the case for alternative measures to deal with such individuals at a meeting of justice ministers this week in Vancouver. Alternatives to prison are expensive but should be pursued, she recommended.
"If you just continue to recycle people through the justice system and you don't deal with whatever their underlying problems are, it's not good for them, it's not good for the community, it's not good for the justice system and it's not good for the health system," Redford says.
Citizens with FASD make up only 1% of the Canadian population but account for an estimated 40% to 50% of all prisoners. People born with FASD have difficulty learning new behaviours and controlling behavioural impulses.
Alberta is using diversion programs that place criminals in the community, where they are monitored by social workers, Redford said.
"One of the things that we need to do, I think, is have a really serious conversation about whether or not anything that's currently in the justice system or in the health care system is really addressing the unique challenges that people who have FASD are having to face on a daily basis."
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