The Sentencing Response to Defendants with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
Criminal Law Journal, Vol. 34, pp. 221-239, 2010
1 Pages Posted: 3 Sep 2010
Date Written: August 2, 2010
This article explores the sentencing response to defendants who have Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). FASD is the umbrella term for a range of effects that result from exposure to maternal alcohol consumption during gestation. Many who have this disorder have difficulty linking their actions to consequences, controlling impulses and remembering things and thus a diagnosis of FASD raises particular issues in sentencing. This article overviews the effects of FASD and the difficulties associated with its diagnosis. It then goes on to examine the appropriate aims of sentencing in FASD cases and addresses the question of whether, and if so in what circumstances, FASD should be perceived as a mitigating factor. The article concludes with a discussion of appropriate penalties for defendants who are diagnosed with FASD and makes some recommendations for increased education about the condition and increased access to resources for diagnosis and response to defendants diagnosed with FASD within the criminal justice system.
Keywords: foetal alcohol spectrum disorder, foetal damage, maternal alcohol consumption, criminal justice
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