Learn about the FASD prevalence in corrections study

  1. About the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Study: Prevalence in Corrections
  2. Study results
  3. What do the results mean?
  4. What happened after the study

The Government of Yukon did a study to find out how many in people in custody or on probation in the Yukon are affected by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) .

  1. About the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Study: Prevalence in Corrections

    In 2008, the Department of Justice hosted a conference in the Yukon on FASD and the justice system, The Path to Justice: Access to Justice for Individuals with FASD. A recommendation from this conference was more research to understand the prevalence of FASD in the justice system.

    Government of Yukon undertook this research project:

    • to improve the understanding of how many people in the corrections system face challenges linked to:
      • FASD;
      • mental health issues; or
      • substance-use problems.

    How was the study done?

    The Government of Yukon committed:

    • funding;
    • staffing; and
    • resources.

    The BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute at the University of British Columbia contributed resources to ensure the data was collected in an ethical manner.

    When was the study done?

    • The study was done from 2013 to 2016.
    • Data was collected between May 2014 and September 2015.

    Who took part?

    • Participants were either in custody or on probation.
    • Participation was voluntary.
    • People between the ages of 18 and 40.

    The study did not focus on individuals considered to be "at risk" of having FASD.

    People of First Nation heritage and corrections

    First Nations people are over-represented in the Yukon corrections population. As such, a priority of this research was to engage with First Nations health partners. This was done mostly through the Yukon First Nations Health and Social Development Commission.

  2. Study results

    The results found that prenatal alcohol exposure was:

    • confirmed in 25% of cases;
    • ruled out in 25% of cases;
    • unclear in the remaining 50% of cases;
    • 17.5% of participants were diagnosed with FASD;
    • a diagnosis could not be confirmed or ruled out for a further 13.75% of participants due to insufficient evidence;
    • 68% of participants did not have FASD;
    • among the sampled population there were high rates of:
      • neuro-cognitive deficits;
      • mental health issues; and
      • substance-abuse problems.

    After the study

    • Participants were provided with their results.
    • Support services were offered for 6 months to ensure that participants could connect with appropriate support services.

  3. What do the results mean?
    • There is a high rate of FASD among people involved in the Yukon justice system.
    • Prevalence is consistent with estimates in other criminal justice based studies in Canada.

    Read the report

    Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in Yukon Corrections
    FASD in Yukon Corrections – Prevalence Study Lay Summary

  4. What happened after the study

    This study adds to the body of research on the prevalence of FASD in the corrections population across Canada.

    The results are being used to inform future program and policy decisions:

    • within the Department of Justice; and
    • in the larger work undertaken to develop a Yukon FASD plan.

    The study may lead to opportunities to undertake further research related to FASD.

    The study led to improved services at Whitehorse Correctional Centre

    • Creation of the Interagency Advisory Committee on FASD, which is co-chaired by Corrections, Health and Social Services and a non-governmental organization.
    • Development of an approach to holistically address the needs of people with FASD.
    • Development of the Adult FASD Diagnostic Clinic.

    For inmates with cognitive impairment and/or mental illness, case management is now:

    • client-centred; and
    • integrated.

    At intake, medical staff do a physical and mental health assessment of all inmates:

    • after the medical assessment, referrals may be made to manage the specific needs of each inmate;
    • identified mental health problems are referred to Whitehorse Correctional Centre (WCC) health care staff who may liaise with the WCC doctor, or the Health and Social Services' forensic complex care team as necessary; and
    • inmates identified with cognitive impairments or FASD may be referred to the WCC psychologist or the Health and Social Services' forensic complex care team.

    Correctional officer basic training now includes modules on FASD and case-management approaches.

    There has been an investment in:

    • collaborative case-management training for individuals working with people with FASD; and
    • certification for case managers.

    Corrections delivers a series of cognitive-skills based programs to assist inmates with FASD or cognitive delays.


For more information, email [email protected] or phone 867-667-3033, toll free at 1-800-661-0408 ext. 3033.