Department of Justice

FASD Study: Prevalence in Corrections

FASD Study: Prevalence in Corrections


In partnership with the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute, at the University of British Columbia, which served as the host institution, the Department of Justice undertook a study evaluating the prevalence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) in individuals who are incarcerated or on probation in Yukon. The entire project ran from 2013 to 2016, with data collection occurring from May 2014 to September 2015.

The purpose of this research was to better understand how many individuals in the Yukon corrections system face challenges linked to FASD, mental health and substance-use problems. Information gathered from the study will be used to help inform service delivery in the Whitehorse Correctional Centre (WCC) and in the community.                                                     

What we found

Prenatal alcohol exposure was confirmed in 25% of cases, ruled out in 25% of cases and unclear in the remaining 50% of cases. Seventeen point five percent (17.5%) of participants were given a diagnosis of FASD. A diagnosis could not be confirmed or ruled out for a further 13.75% of participants due to insufficient evidence.  69% of participants did not have FASD. Neurocognitive deficits were observed in high rates among the sampled population, along with mental health and substance abuse problems. Those participating were provided with their results; services were also offered for six months after the study’s end to ensure that they could connect with any necessary supports needed.   

What it means

Findings from this research highlight the high rate of FASD present among adults involved in the justice system in Yukon. Results are in line with prevalence estimates in other criminal justice based studies in Canada. Findings also highlighted high rates of both mental health and addictions difficulties in the sample, and high rates of cognitive deficits across all participants.

Next steps

The FASD Study: Prevalence in Corrections study results add to the body of research on the prevalence of FASD in the corrections population across Canada. Results will be used in Yukon to inform future program and policy decisions both within the Department of Justice and in the larger work being undertaken to develop a Yukon FASD Plan. This research may also lead to opportunities to undertake further research related to FASD.  

More information

This project was developed and implemented with the goal of sharing its methodology and approach with others who may be interested in undertaking similar research in other jurisdictions. Contact the Department of Justice for more information.


Policy and Communications Unit

Department of Justice, Government of Yukon

Phone: 867-667-3033

Toll free: 1-800-661-0408 ext. 3033