AccessAbility Day 4: Article Summary-Corrections and connection to the community: A diagnostic and service program for incarcerated adult men with FASD

Background
Adverse outcomes such as mental health issues, substance misuse, contact with the Justice system and incarceration can be associated with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Due to their cognitive functioning deficits, adults with FASD may become involved with the judicial and correctional systems in Canada, which are not fully equipped to provide the services necessary for them. Corrections and Connection to the Community (3C) is an 18-month service program, studied by Brintnell and colleagues (2019). They looked at assessing, diagnosing and providing life-skills development training for adult male offenders with FASD who are being released to the community.

Main findings

  • In this diagnostic and service program, 52 incarcerated men underwent the 3C process that included the following components:
    • Weekly lifestyle development activities consisted of Mind (mental health), Body (physical health) and Spirit (spiritual health) (MBS) programs
    • Consultations with the Transitional Advocates who provide support and follow up once these men transition into the community
    • Assessments for FASD diagnosis and functional testing
    • Community information sessions
  • 57% of the participants were diagnosed with neuro-behavioural disorders associated with FASD, while 32% of them had permanent brain damage, with higher levels of mental health issues and substance misuse.
  • The researchers found that most of the incarcerated adults with FASD had lower capacity to learn, understand and follow instructions, and thus need special support services from the community in order to live as independently as possible.
  • 65% of the participants were re-connected with the justice system upon returning to the community. These men were more likely to have juvenile records or be frequent re-offenders. They also had lower capacity for independent community living.

Recommendations

  • Incarcerated adult men with FASD have difficulties in lifestyle management (E.g. money management, maintaining good health, and problem-solving) and thus require support to live independently within the community upon release, which can be provided through a 3C program.
  • Such programs can provide the necessary life-development skills in all mind, body and spirit perspectives that may reduce their likelihood of re-connecting with the justice system.
  • Identification, diagnosis and functional assessment of incarcerated men with FASD is necessary, in order to provide the support they need within the correctional system and upon re-integration into the community.

Take-home message
Frequent contact with the justice system and re-offending can be seen in many adults with FASD, due to their cognitive and functional deficits. The successful re-connection with the community, independent living and reducing the possibility of re-offending can be achieved through diagnostic assessments and rehabilitation interventions that focus on all aspects of their life-development. The 3C program is one such program that was being tested in the Canadian correctional system that gives hope for adult offenders with FASD to have a stable life upon release to the community.

3C summary

Authors: Brintnell, E. S., Sawhney, A., G Bailey, P., Nelson, M., D Pike, A., & Wielandt, P

Journal: International Journal of Law and Psychiatry

 

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