Fetal alcohol syndrome in the United States corrections system

Addict Biol. 2004 Jun;9(2):169-76; discussion 177-8. doi: 10.1080/13556210410001717060.


Prenatal alcohol exposure can result in fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), which may increase the risk of confinement in the corrections system. In the United States each state and four major cities' corrections systems were asked to complete a questionnaire on the prevalence of FAS and alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND) in the offender population, the availability of screening and diagnostic services to identify offenders with FAS and staff training needs related to FAS. The total population in the 54 entities was 3,080,904 inmates. Completed questionnaires were obtained from 42 entities (78%). The mean rate of reported substance abuse in offenders was 60.1%. Specialized programs for persons with mental retardation were reported for 44.4% of corrections facilities and 25.9% of community corrections facilities. Programs for pregnant women were reported for 46.3% of corrections facilities and 29.6% of community facilities. One program (1.9%) reported having a screening program for FAS in the corrections system. Only four programs (7.4%) reported having access to diagnostic services for FAS in the corrections facilities. Of the 3,080,904 offenders, only one offender was reported to have a diagnosis of FAS. Reported staff training needs were very large. In conclusion, corrections systems have high unmet needs to screen, identify, and treat offenders with FAS and ARND. Staff training needs are substantial.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Prevalence
  • Prisons / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Prisons / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States