FASD & the Justice System

Secondary behavioursdevelop over time when there is a chronic 'poor fit' between the person and his or her environment. Defensive behaviours are normal protective reactions to frustration…. By definition, these are preventable when a good fit is provided.” (Malbin, D. 2004).

Poor concept of cause and effect, inability to predict consequences, and the inability to change actions in different situations make a person with FASD likely to have increased involvement with the law.  In 2004, Streissguth and colleagues studied 415 people with FAS or FAE (now referred to as Partial FAS) and found that 60% had trouble with the law, 50% had experienced confinement, 49% had engaged in inappropriate sexual behaviour, and 35% had alcohol or drug problem.  Eighty percent (80%) had not been raised by their biological mothers (Streissguth, A. 2004).

Individuals with FASD are also vulnerable to manipulation.  False confessions, acquiescence, difficulty understanding simplified cautions and consent have all been identified as issues that are affected by vulnerability to manipulation (Clark, E. 2004).

Offenders with many secondary behaviours should be assessed for FASD. Various behaviours can provide helpful cues for identifying points of intervention and support for individual offenders with a view to rehabilitation or correction.

Secondary Behaviours PDF