mental healthNew York’s judges and attorneys are literally staring in the face of a worrisome medical, sociological, psychological and legal problem every single day: Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)/Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Unfortunately, those of us in the courts, like most of us in society, have no idea what we are seeing.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cannot pinpoint how many people suffer from alcohol-induced prenatal brain damage, we do know that individuals with FASD have a higher rate of incarceration and arrest, with approximately half of all people with FASD facing legal trouble at some point. Furthermore, the prison population has much higher rates of FASD than the general population, and roughly 70% of the children in foster care are affected by prenatal alcohol exposure.