“I have to do this this way”

(Video by Marc Lester and Kyle Hopkins / Anchorage Daily News)

Barrow judge Michael Jeffery has made several changes to the way he runs his court to try to provide fair treatment for defendants who may be affected by a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. In 1990, a defense attorney presented evidence that her client was diagnosed with an FASD, and that it would be unjust to not to take that condition into account.

Jeffery agreed.

“And then I started to think how big it is, because it’s not just defendants. It’s witnesses in civil cases. It’s people getting interviewed by the police and wanting to please. It just plays out in all these areas.

That’s when I started this process of trying to grapple with it. That means changing the way I do things.”

In this Alcohol & Me video, Jeffery talks about his approach and talks about a recent change in state law that specifically recognizes fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

Barrow probation officer Terri Telkamp has also adjusted her approach to try to help clients affected by FASD. Click here to see Telkamp’s perspective.

Originally published May 31, 2014 by Marc Lester and Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage Daily News.