Formerly known as MOFAS: Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Exciting News
from MOFAS

If you're looking for the Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (MOFAS) you have come to the right place. We have some exciting news about our organization. We have a new name! MOFAS has officially been renamed Proof Alliance. Our mission remains the same: to prevent prenatal alcohol exposure and to improve the quality of life for people living with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).

Why PR%F

We now have the proof that prenatal alcohol exposure is a leading cause of brain injury in children. We have the proof that FASD is 100% preventable and people living with an FASD can reach 100% of their potential.

Why Alliance?

We seek to build powerful alliances with people with an FASD, their families, legislators, experts in the field, new partners, and community members to bring awareness, research, and services to this field.

What's Next?

Proof Alliance is rebranding, expanding, and we're moving! We have a new logo, website, and prevention campaign to help change the norms around drinking during pregnancy. And in May 2019 we will be moving to a stand-alone building. Proof Alliance commits to the people of Minnesota and we will continue to develop transformative programs to help Minnesotans impacted by FASD.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and Confabulation: A Basic Understanding

Authors: Jerrod Brown1, Pamela Oberoi2, Judge Anthony Wartnik3, Erv Weinkauf4, and Janina Wresh5

 
Uncovering the truth and identifying lies in order to restore justice is a vital task for those involved in our criminal justice system. Sometimes the boundaries are blurry and the task becomes even more difficult due the complex nature of human psychology and brain physiology. What may appear as an obvious lie and not mirror reality at first sight by a suspect could in fact be an indicator of something much different. In this event, it is important to consider the possibility that the suspect is confabulating.
 
Confabulation is a symptom observable in some individuals with memory impairment and intellectual disabilities manifesting itself in the invention of untrue stories of the past or the insistence on the veracity of these stories without knowledge of their falsehood (Nedjam, 2004). Therefore, the differentiation between confabulation and lying can be made due to the falsification of memories through guessing or imagining an event while then backfilling and assuming the reality in the event of confabulation. Liars are aware of the falsehood of their statements; confabulators are not (Zannino et al, 2008). While telling tales is typical in younger children, older individuals suffering from Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) may exhibit the same symptoms due to an arrested development (Thomas et al, 1998). The production of confabulation is typically linked to FASD due to cognitive deficits that exist. Brain damage can lead to this production of false memories without the awareness of their falsehood (Fotopoulou, 2008).
 
The differentiation between confabulation and lying is crucially important since confabulation can lead individuals to confess to crimes they did not commit, therefore, creating a profound disadvantage for those suffering from FASD. The onlooker may not be able to identify the underlying pathology, which can then lead to implications in connection to issues of suggestibility, witness reliability, false confessions and sentencing, all of which may be overlooked by law enforcement, counsel, and the courts (Moore and Green, 2004).
 
In order to understand and avoid the many cases in which children and adults have been induced to describe non-experienced events, persons with FASD require special assistance within the criminal justice system. This will help guarantee adequate testimony and assist in the identification of the problem. Individuals need this assistance in order to avoid confessing to crimes that they did not commit (Moore and Green, 2004; Mercier and Crocker, 2010). Case law and scientific literature offer many examples of these events and controlled laboratory studies have been able to confirm the ease with which leading and suggestive questions can provoke entirely false accounts (Moore and Green, 2004).

When confabulation is suspected, defense counsel should seek an expert witness to test the client for both competency and suggestibility, using the Grisso (Thomas Grisso) instruments for competency testing and the Gudjonsson (Gisli Gudjonsson) Suggestibility Scales regarding the client’s propensity for self-incrimination due to false confessions. The Gudjonsson Scales regarding false confessions grew out of concern by psychologists for reliance solely based on interview data and clinical judgment.
 

About the Authors:

1. Jerrod Brown, MA, MS, MS, MS is the Treatment Director for Pathways Counseling Center, Inc. and the founder and CEO of the American Institute for the Advancement of Forensic Studies (AIAFS). Jerrod has done extensive research on the topic of FASD and is a certified FASD trainer.
 
2. Pamela Oberoi, BA, is a political scientist with an emphasis on political psychology and issues of forced migration. She is currently writing her Master’s thesis in Peace Studies and in Counseling Psychology. Pamela has worked as the director of a refugee center in Austria and currently works for Pathways Counseling Center in St. Paul.
 
3. Judge Anthony (Tony) Wartnik, BA, JD, was a trial judge for 34 years in King County, Washington. He chaired his court’s task force on protocols for determining competency of youth with organic brain damage and the Governor’s Advisory Panel of FAS/FAE. In addition he presided over more than 500 Involuntary Mental Illness Treatment Commitment cases. Tony is Legal Director for FASD Experts, a multi-disciplinary FASD Forensic Assessment team. He is a SAMHSA Center for Excellence certified trainer and a nationally and internationally recognized author and speaker on FASD and the law.
 
4. Erv Winkauf, MA is s a retired 40 year law enforcement veteran who also has 19 years teaching experience. He currently serves as Criminal Justice Department Chair at Concordia University, St. Paul.
 
5. Janina Wresh, BA has 19 years-experience in the Law Enforcement capacity to include, but not limited to; Forensic Crime Laboratory; 4th Judicial Courts and Adult Detention Center affiliation; Deputy Sheriff and Police Officer; Domestic Abuse Response Specialist; Crisis Intervention Specialist; Crime Scene Technician; (AIAFS) COO; Adjunct Criminal Justice Professor; Founder and President of MN Association of Evidence and Property Specialists (MAPET).
 

References

1. Kopelman, Michael D. (2010) “Varieties of confabulation and delusion”, Cognitive
Neuropsychiatry, 151, 14-27, First published on 14 September 2009 (iFirst)
 
2. Nedjam Z, D. E. (2004). Confabulation but not executive dysfunction discriminate AD from front temporal dementia. European Journal of Neurology, 728-733.
 
3. Zannino, GD, Barban, F, Caltagirone, C, and Carlesimo, GA. (2008). ” Do confabulators really try to remember when they confabulate? A case report,” Cogn Neuropsychol. 25, 831-52.
 
4. Thomas, Kelly, Mattson, S.N. and Riley, E.P. (1998). Comparison of social abilities of children with fetal alcohol syndrome to those of children with similar IQ scores and normal controls. Alcohol Clin Exp Research, 22, 528-533.
 
5. Fotopoulou, A. (2008). False selves in neuropsychological rehabilitation: The challenge of confabulation. Institue of Psychiatry, King’s College London, UK. P. 541-565.
 
6. Moore, TE, Green, M. (2004). Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD): A need for Closer Examination by the Criminal Justice System. Criminal Reports, 19, 99-108.
 
7. Mercier, C, and Crocker, AG. (2010). The First Critical Steps through the Criminal Justice System for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 130-138.
 
8. Grisso, T., Competency to stand trial evaluations. A Manual for Practice, 1988.
 
9. Grisso, T., Steinberg, L., Woolard, J., Cauffman, E., Scott, E, Graham, S., Lexcen, F., Reppucci, N.D., and Schwartz, R. (2003). Juveniles’ Competence to Stand Trial: A Comparision of Adolescents and Adults’ Capacities as Trial Defendants. Law and Human Behavior, 27, 4.
 
10. Gudjonsson, Gisli, Gudjonsson Suggestibility Scales, Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK (United Kingdom), Psychology Press.

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