FASD & the Justice System

R. v. Soosay, 2012 ABPC 220 (Anderson J.)

Guilty plea by Aboriginal offender to two counts of robbery, one count of B&E, theft – robbery of purse and cell phone (‘street mugging’), liquor from store, theft of bikes from shed – no actual violence - addiction issues, foster care, FASD and trouble coping, poor executive brain functioning, IQ at 1st percentile – lengthy record but mostly failing to comply with court orders – diminished cognitive capacity goes to level of moral blameworthiness and principle of proportionality, affects how sentencing objectives can be achieved – FASD presents huge and unique challenge to sentencing courts – high percentage of persons with the disorder migrate to criminal justice system – general deterrence a factor, offence requires jail but sentence should not be exemplary when dealing with diminished capacity – separation from society not necessary and it would be callous and counterproductive, suggestible young man should not go to penitentiary as likely to make gang ties and reinforce anti-social tendencies – greatest hope is through intense community supports that recognize his limitations and potential – 8 mos jail less ptc for robberies, 4 mos CSO plus 12 mos probation for break and enter (Crown sought global 33 months jail less ptc) – CSO provides greatest chance to catalyze necessary changes and breaches back before sentencing judge