Diversion and specialized courts

In some cases, accused persons are permitted to undergo a diversion program rather than stand trial as part of the regular court process. Criminal charges are usually dropped when the accused successfully completes a diversion program. There are also specialized courts that allow the accused to plead guilty, then go through a program or comply with other requirements and ultimately get a lower sentence than he would otherwise have received.

From the time of arrest, counsel for the defense and the accused may wish to consider the possibility of referring the accused with FASD to the community or to a program where they can obtain supports. or appropriate interventions.

Analysts and researchers also note a growing interest in problem-solving courts and therapeutic jurisprudence among criminal justice professionals. (Chartrand, L. 2003; Cox, L. 2008).

As a result, offenders with mental illness are increasingly referred to other programs that offer rehabilitation services in lieu of incarceration. “Problem-solving tribunals are specialized administrative tribunals whose mission is to resolve specific problems and often deal with individuals in need of social services, mental health services or treatment for substance abuse. 'alcohol or drug'. (Chartrand, L. 2003). An example of this type of court is the Toronto Mental Health Court, which can offer solutions that include links to different services, mental health services, housing or employment that have the potential to improve conditions that are at stake. origin of criminal behavior. "

Another example is the Community Council Program in Toronto, which distracts aboriginal offenders from the criminal justice system and brings them to their own community. Often diverted offenses include failure to appear or breaching conditions, obstructing police work or the justice system, property offenses, victimless crimes and personal offenses. “The program is focused on the offender rather than the offense. The idea is that the community is best placed to meet the needs of Indigenous offenders, and that they help remove them from the prevailing justice system which, like a revolving door, moves most individuals from the streets to prison, and vice versa. ”(Anderson D., 2008).

Both crown and defense attorneys should always consider whether diversion is appropriate and whether it is in the public interest. In some cases this will not be possible, for example when the charges are very serious, but it is important to consider the possibility.

For offenders with FASD, the success of diversion measures will depend on:

  • Community understanding and community support for substitution processes
  • The existence of detailed, easy to understand and closely supervised agreements.

Conditional sentences and sentences other than imprisonment

Some courts have imposed conditional sentences or sentences other than imprisonment in cases where the defense has been able to make convincing submissions that focus on rehabilitation and support programs for accused persons with the disorder. FASD.

Aboriginal communities living in urban areas or on reserves are calling for less conflictual and more rehabilitation-oriented methods that are culturally appropriate. An example of these methods is the Healing Circle, in which participants sit in a circle, facing each other. The aim is to create a sense of equality and understanding about common problems, and to jointly take responsibility for finding a solution. Everyone's contribution is taken into account. The process helps the community to see beyond the offender and explore the causes of the crime committed.

Other examples include restorative justice processes called, for example, youth justice committees, family and community conferences, community justice, and so on. Like the Healing Circles, these processes aim to bring together victims, offenders and other interested parties so that they can work together, in a holistic way, to solve the problems and deal with the harm that the crime has caused. caused, thus recognizing that not only the victims