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.

FASD and the Criminal Justice System

FASD and the Criminal Justice System

FASD and the Criminal Justice System (PDF Version)

Prenatal alcohol exposure (or drinking alcohol during pregnancy) can cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). FASD refers to a range of conditions including birth defects, brain injury, and physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities.1 These conditions are lifelong and irreversible. Individuals with an FASD are involved in the criminal justice system at an alarming rate.  Youth and adults with an FASD often have a form a brain injury that may make it difficult for them to stay out of trouble with the law.2-6 They may not know how to deal with police, attorneys, judges, social workers, psychiatrists, corrections and probation officers, and others they may encounter. 

Addressing FASD in the Criminal Justice System

12.8 – the average age that children with an FASD begin having trouble with the law.7

The annual cost to the US of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome alone in direct and indirect costs.[9]

FASD by the Numbers:

  • In 2012, the American Bar Association passed a resolution urging all attorneys and judges to receive training to help identify and respond effectively to individuals on the fetal alcohol spectrum. 8
  • 50% of individuals with an FASD have a history of confinement in a jail, prison, chemical health treatment facility, or psychiatric hospital.9
  • People with an FASD are vulnerable to confabulation and making false confessions.10
  • People with an FASD may be unable to understand the charges against them and participate in their own defense.
  • Youth with an FASD are likely to be safer in a juvenile facility than an adult prison due to vulnerabilities.
  • Attorneys may be successful in presenting FASD as a mitigating factor. Alternative/diversionary sentencing options should be explored.
  • Court-ordered treatment is sometimes the most appropriate intervention.11

There is hope. We can change how lawyers, clients, police, judges, probation officers, prison guards, and family members work with FAS clients.

– David Boulding, attorney for clients with an FASD


Reasons Individuals with an FASD May Get in Trouble with the Law

“Many of the behavioral features that are characteristic of children with FASD, such as attention deficits, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, have been shown in longitudinal studies to be predictors of delinquency and adult criminal behavior.”12

Research shows that individuals with an FASD have specific types of brain injury that can lead to behaviors that can cause them to get involved in criminal activity. These include:

  • Difficulty with impulse control and inability to understand future consequences of current behavior
  • Difficulty planning, connecting cause and effect, empathizing, taking responsibility, delaying gratification, and/or making good judgements
  • Tendency toward explosive episodes and longer period to calm or regulate themselves
  • Vulnerability to peer pressure (e.g., may commit a crime to please their friends)

Sources:

  1. Burd L, Blair J, Dropps K. Prenatal alcohol exposure, blood alcohol concentrations and alcohol elimination rates for the mother, fetus and newborn. Journal of Perinatology. 2012;32(9):652-659.
  2. Subramoney S, Eastman E, Adnams C, Stein DJ, Donald KA. The Early Developmental Outcomes of Prenatal Alcohol Exposure: A Review. Frontiers in Neurology. 2018;9(1108).
  3. Gross AC, Deling LA, Wozniak JR, Boys CJ. Objective measures of executive functioning are highly discrepant with parent-report in fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Child Neuropsychology. 2015;21(4): 531-538.
  4. Glass L, Mattson SN. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: A Case Study. J Pediatr Neuropsychol. 2017;3(2):114-135.
  5. Terasaki LS, Schwarz JM. Impact of Prenatal and Subsequent Adult Alcohol Exposure on Pro-Inflammatory Cytokine Expression in Brain Regions Necessary for Simple Recognition Memory. Brain Sciences (2076-3425). 2017;7(10):1-16
  6. Treit et al. Longitudinal MRI reveals altered trajectory of brain development during childhood and adolescence in fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, Journal of Neuroscience. 2013;33(24):10098-109.
  7. American Bar Association. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD): What You Need to Know to Help Your Clients. https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/publications/litigation_committees/childrights/l12juncm1.authcheckdam.pdf
  8. American Bar Association. Resolution 112B. https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/mental_physical_disability/Resolution_112B.authcheckdam.pdf
  9. Streissguth, AP, Bookstein FL, Barr HM, et al. Risk factors for adverse life outcomes in fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal alcohol effects. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. 2004;25(4):228-238.
  10. Gagnier KR, Moore TE, Green JM. A Need for Closer Examination of FASD by the Criminal Justice System: Has the Call Been Answered? Canadian Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 2011;18(3):e426-e439.
  11. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and Juvenile Justice: How Professionals Can Make a Difference. https://www.prevention.org/Resources/0D69547D-B224-467E-A3DA-9B789186FD8B/FASD_andJuvenileJustice.pdf
  12. National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: Implications for Juvenile and Family Court Judges. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/sites/default/files/publications/ICCFASD/NCJFCJ_FASD_Guide_Final-12012016.pdf

Last updated: June 2019

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