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State of Intoxication

By Kyle Hopkins and Marc Lester


Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: Despite progress, an uncertain future - Alaska has become a leader in preventing and diagnosing fetal alcohol syndrome, thanks in no small part to an unprecedented $29 million federal earmark. But policymakers, health care providers and educators here also have failed to take certain common-sense steps to fight the disability.

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: What you don’t know about drinking and pregnancy - Heavy drinking by a pregnant mother, even just a party or two, can do lifelong damage to an unborn baby when the embryo is no larger than the period at the end of this sentence. Hard-drinking Alaska is particularly at risk.

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: Four families seek to confront and understand - Serenity, Elaine, Jacob and Elijah share a single truth: Their disability was preventable, and it will influence every aspect of their lives for as long as they live.

Bootlegging: Barrow police crack down - With the nearest liquor store 300 miles away, police expect trouble when the city is flush with cash.

Public intoxication: How Nome built a safety net - So many people died outdoors or vanished in Nome that the FBI once searched for signs of a serial killer and Hollywood made a movie blaming alien abductions. In truth, many people simply succumbed to a deadly mix of alcohol and bitter cold.

Local option laws: Shismaref votes on prohibition - The Inupiat village is the latest Alaska town to face a thorny, high-stakes choice. Voters are expected decide in a city election Tuesday whether to lift a 30-year-old ban on alcohol.

Bar break: Mayhem begins at closing time - It's a side of Anchorage most residents never see -- just before and after 3 a.m., when the bars close and hundreds of under-the-influence people pour onto downtown streets.

Drunken driving: The crash that Citari Townes-Sweatt - Drunken driving is one of Alaska’s most common major crimes – an equal opportunity life-sinker that leads to the arrest of 4,000 people every year. For one family, the tragedy began with a knock at the door.


Welcome to Wellness Court, an alternative to regular courtrooms that the Alaska Judicial Council and economics researchers say holds promise for cracking the cycle of Alaska inmates who can’t stay out of jail.

Kyle Hopkins,Marc Lester
From the driver’s seat of his Anchorage police cruiser, Officer Barry Hetlet sees many people out wandering the streets of Fairview and downtown Anchorage in the middle of the night.Marc Lester
Following the 2010 launch of a city-run liquor store, Kotzebue officials plan to open a city-owned bar and burger restaurant later this year in an ongoing experiment to pay for city services with liquor sales.Kyle Hopkins
A physician whose medical license was suspended for four years in Virginia because of drug and alcohol abuse has been named Alaska's chief medical examiner.Kyle Hopkins
If you are accused of a crime here, 320 miles above the Arctic Circle, and you can't walk, a wheelchair ramp leads to the swinging courthouse doors. Watch the ice.Kyle Hopkins & Photos By Marc Lester
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.
Probation officer Terri Telkamp has a unique approach to her work in Barrow. She suspects many people who wind up on her caseload are affected by fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, and has adapted in ways she hopes will lessen the likelihood that felons will reoffend.
More than 63 percent of hospitalizations of Alaska Natives for intentional injuries – meaning fights, murders, suicides and suicide attempts – were alcohol-related, according to a newly updated ANTHC report.
A new study concludes that Alaska Natives are less likely to kill themselves if they live in villages with prominent traditional elders, a high number of married couples and access to jobs.Kyle Hopkins

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