Juvenile Decertification Evaluation

by Kristen Fescoe

 
 
Juvenile Decertification Evaluation

 

 

 

 

 

Writing Sample for Kristen Fescoe:

Juvenile Decertification Evaluation of Anthony G.

Kristen Fescoe

Forensic Assessment II

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

 
 
 
 

 

Forensic Evaluation

                                                                                                           

December 4, 2002

Re: Anthony G.

PP# 878302

 

Current Legal Status: Pre-Trial, juvenile, transfer petition filed

 

Referral

 

Anthony G. is an 18-year-old African American male who, at the time of evaluation, was detained at the House of Corrections in Philadelphia, PA. He had been placed here following his arrest on May 20, 2002 on charges of Robbery, Car Jacking, Conspiracy, Theft, VUFA, PIC, Simple Assault, REAP and Unauthorized use of auto. A request for a mental health evaluation was made to provide Anthony’s defense attorney with information relevant to treatment needs and amenability, risk assessment & public safety, and Residential Treatment Facility placement needs.

 

Procedures

 

Anthony was evaluated on one occasion in the art room of The House of Corrections. In addition to a clinical interview, Anthony was administered a standard objective test of mental and emotional functioning (the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, 2nd edition, or MMPI-2), a standard test to assess intellectual functioning (Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children – 3rd edition, or WISC-III), a structured screening instrument for adolescent symptoms of mental and emotional disorder (the Massachusetts Youth Screening Inventory, or MAYSI), and a standard test of current functioning in relevant academic areas (the Wide Range Achievment Test, 3rd edition or WRAT-3). An interview was conducted with Robert C., Anthony’s foster father to obtain collateral information. The following documents, obtained through Anthony’s attorney, were also reviewed as part of this evaluation:

 

  1. Pennypack House School Records – Attendance, Grades, Suspensions
  2. Arrest Report
  3. Notes of Testimony
  4. Affadavit of Probable Cause for Arrest
  5. Incident Report
  6. Investigation Report
  7. Signed Statement of Nickie D.
  8. Signed Statement of Tabetha D.
  9. Criminal Complaint
  10. Defender Association Psycho Social Summary (Prepared by Susan S.) – History

 

Prior to the evaluation, Anthony was notified about the purpose of the evaluation and the associated limits on confidentiality. He understood the basic purpose of the evaluation, reporting back his understanding that he would be evaluated and that a written report would be submitted to his attorney. He further understood that the report could be used in his trial and, if it were, copies would be provided to the prosecution and the court.

 

Relevant History

 

Some of the historical information described in this section was obtained from collateral sources, and some was obtained directly from Anthony. Whenever possible, we attempted to assess the consistency of factual information through the use of multiple sources.

 

Family

According to the Psycho Social Summary submitted by the Defender Association (prepared by social worker Susan S.), Anthony was born to Jacqueline G. and James S. Anthony has seven brothers and two sisters. He is closest with the siblings who have both the same mother and father as him. His father apparently had no interest in being involved with him or his siblings. Anthony states that when he was a young child, he remembers his father dealing drugs.

His mother also has an extensive drug history, using drugs on and off for many years. She has been in recovery for the last year and a half, but there is evidence that she may have relapsed. Ms. G. recently won a settlement for a large sum of money from the city and has promised to use the money to post bail for Anthony, but has yet to do so. Mr. C., Anthony’s foster-father, believes that Ms. G. has used this money to buy drugs. 

Anthony reports having vague recollections of his childhood. He reports being subjected to severe neglect and abuse. According to Anthony’s Psycho Social Summary, once Ms. G. started using cocaine she reportedly began neglecting and abusing her children. She would spend the family’s money on drugs and consequently did not provide adequate food for her children. She eventually began to beat her children with her fists, belts and other household objects. When his mother would beat him, Anthony reports that he would crouch in a corner in hopes that his mother would overlook him.

Anthony reports that while under the care of his mother, he was sexually molested by his older brother Clarence. It is unknown whether his mother was aware of the abuse. His brother then threatened to hurt him if he did not acquiesce with the sexual abuse. Anthony got into the habit of avoiding Clarence as best as possible. The molestation created a great feeling of shame for Anthony.

Anthony was taken from his mother’s care, along with six other children living in her care, but the Department of Child and Human Services. Anthony and his younger brother, Basil, were taken to a foster home separate from their other siblings. The brothers were not informed of why they were taken away from their mothers’ care. The boys remained in the first foster home for approximately three months, when their foster mother told DHS that the new boys needed a new placement because they were misbehaving. After this placement, Anthony was placed in a number of foster homes. Between the ages of seven and eight, Anthony was placed in five foster homes.  Anthony was told by his social worker that he had so many placements because he was bad. He did not understand what her did wrong, but believed that his behavior was the reason for the moves. During this time, the siblings were allowed to visit with each other every other week. Occasionally, Ms. G. was allowed to attend these visits.

In July of 1993, at the age of eight, Anthony was placed at the Wordsworth Academy, a residential treatment program for children with mental health problems. (Anthony had a previous psychiatric hospitalization for suicidal threats, but her recanted the threats when evaluated by the psychiatrists.) He remained at the Wordsworth Academy for three years, although the average stay was only nine to eighteen months. He reports that even though he was in a residential program, he did not receive regular therapy.

In August of 1996, Wordsworth staff felt that he finally met his treatment goals and discharged him. He was sent to a therapeutic foster care system. At this placement he had a foster mother who was kind to him, he remains in contact with her to this day. He was only able to stay with her temporarily. After that placement, Anthony was transferred to another foster home. His foster parents were very strict and Anthony spent much of his time their “in trouble.” On one occasion when his foster parents became angry with him, he was locked in the basement. He eventually broke a window and fled to his mothers’ home. Shortly after this, his DHS worker made a visit to Ms. G.’s home and informed Anthony that he could not stay with his mother.

Anthony met Mr. C., his present foster-father, in October of 1998. They were introduced by Mr. C.’s placement social worker (the person responsible for matching his with a foster child). Mr. C. was adopted as a child and made the decision to give a child the opportunity that he was given. Mr. C. has a Masters degree in human services and works as a behavioral specialist at the Juvenile Justice Center and Assessment and Treatment Alternatives.

Shortly before the two met, Robert C. complete a training program at Wordsworth to become a foster / adoptive parent. When his placement social worker told him about Anthony, he was unsure about whether the placement was a good fit. He had anticipated taking in a younger child. He finally met Anthony, who was thirteen at the time, in September of 1998 and it was then that he decided he would like Anthony to live with him.

Anthony and Mr. C. had three weekend visits and then on October 14, 1998 Anthony then moved in with Mr. C.. Mr. C. describes their time together as stormy in the beginning and explains that the two had their fair share of problems, but they worked through them together. Anthony began smoking marijuana and occasionally attempted to run away.

Ms. S., the social worker who authored the Psych Social Summary, reported that Mr. C. had a difficult time setting limits for Anthony. He apparently made excuses for Anthony’s behavior and did not hold him accountable for his actions.  Eventually Mr. C. began to set limits for what type of behavior would be acceptable. Because of the his marijuana use and running away from home, Mr. C. insisted that his foster son attend Foundations, a short-term hospitalization to address the drug use.

After his return from the program, his marijuana use continued and he began to experiment with PCP. Mr. C. saw that Anthony’s substance abuse was persisting, and so he placed him at the Charter-Fairmont Hospital for eight days. When he returned home, the drug using behavior continued. He was then placed for a long term stay at the Renewal Center. After 30 days, he was released to Mr. C.’s care. Upon his return home his behavior pattern changed for the better. He still reports smoking marijuana occasionally, but much less and there was not more experimentation with other drugs.

 

Educational

Anthony went to pre-school through 1st grade at Belmont Elementary School. He was transferred to the Daroff School and repeated first grade in an emotional support class. He spent a brief period at the Pennel School and was then transferred to the Kelly School because it had a special education program.

According to the Psycho Social Summary, once Anthony was placed at the Wordsworth Residential Facility, he began to attend school on their grounds. The classes at this school were small (10 children) and the classes were un-graded. Anthony reports that while at the Wordsworth Special Education School, he had excellent attendance and received grades on the honor roll. Mr. C. states that Anthony attended Wordsworth from the ages of 6 until 12.

Anthony continued attending school at the Wordsworth school after his placement with Mr. C.. While at this school, he began to get into fights with teachers and other students and was disruptive in class. Anthony told Mr. C. that he did not want to attend the school at Wordsworth, he would have rather be in a “normal” school. The teachers at Wordsworth also felt that Anthony was not making progress at the school.

The Psychosocial Summary states that the school district transferred him to the Daniel Boone disciplinary school. Mr. C. advocated for his son’s placement in the neighborhood high school. Twenty-five days after starting school at Daniel Boone, Anthony was transferred to the special education program at Germantown High School. He earned grades of B’s and C’s his first year. The freedom at this school afforded Anthony the opportunity to cut class, which also led to his smoking marijuana with neighborhood kids.

            According to Anthony, while at Germantown High School he began hanging out with the “wrong crowd”. His foster father states that Anthony had a tendency to “gravitate towards thugs.” Anthony reports poor attendance and six suspensions. Mr. C. states that Anthony’s suspensions were due to “cursing teacher out,” “throwing things,” and “drugs in the hallways.”

Anthony is currently enrolled in the Pennypack school. According to the Psycho Social Summary, he is on course to complete high school. According to Anthony’s school records from the Pennypack school, dated January 1, 2002 Anthony had 41 unexcused absences and 37 late attendance days. He has four suspensions, for reasons ranging from disruption to assault on school personnel. His grades ranged from B’s to F’s, with most of his grades being D’s and F’s. He needs 21.5 credits in order to graduate.

The summary states that if Anthony is returned to Mr. C.’s care he would attend high school during the day and a twilight program in the evenings.

 

Vocational History

Anthony states that he has never had a job. He feels that this is largely because he has spent a great deal of time in residential treatment programs. Mr. C. reports that Anthony did some intermittent work at a local church between the ages of thirteen and fifteen. Anthony states that in the future he would like to work with children, perhaps as a social worker.

 

Peer History

Anthony reports having very few friends. His best friend is a girl, and he explicitly states that he is not dating her. He does report having a girlfriend, who he has dated for the past 2 years. He asserts that he does not associated well with other males, instead he trusts girls more. Mr. C. reports that one of Anthony’s peers was also involved in the crime for which he is currently being charged. He feels that Anthony needs to find more positive role models. He says that Anthony has no “core group” of friend’s, rather he “floated into groups.”

 

Substance Abuse

Until his 30 - day residential drug and alcohol treatment Anthony smoked marijuana on a daily basis. Presently, Anthony reports occasionally smoking marijuana, Mr. C. confirmed this information. Anthony has attended several drug treatment programs, which have had marginal success. He has also used PCP in the past, but reports no longer using. 

 

Juvenile Record

No Juvenile Record. Two prior arrests, but the charges were dropped in both instances.

 

Current Clinical Condition

Anthony presented as an African American male who appeared his stated age of eighteen. He was dressed in the House of Corrections garb and was fairly well - groomed. He has a medium build. He reported no visual, auditory or motor problems. During the present evaluation, Anthony did not report experiencing and perceptual disturbances. He was generally cooperative, yet he was sometimes attentive. His speech was clear and relevant.

He was oriented to time, person and place. Anthony reports no head injuries; this was confirmed by his foster father.

According to the findings of the MMPI-II, Anthony’s profile showed an unwillingness to disclose personal information. The profile used in the analysis was the Pa Scale (Welsch Code {new} 6’0+4-2879/5:13# L’F+-/:K#), which shows Anthony as someone who is experiencing severe psychological adjustment problems. He has some antisocial beliefs and attitudes and blames others for the problems he experiences. The profile suggests a diagnosis of Paranoid Personality or Paranoid disorder. According to this profile, it is unlikely that Anthony would seek psychological assistance on his own. He is likely to be guarded in therapy, suspicious of the therapist and the sessions will likely be turbulent. Anthony would likely terminate treatment.

Anthony’s scores on the WRAT-III showed his reading abilities to be 2nd grade score (Standard Score 59). His spelling scores are at a 3rd grade level (Standard Score 70) and his arithmetic scores are at a 4th grade level (Standard Score 71).

The scores from the WAIS-III show a full scale IQ of 76, which falls in the 5th percentile and in the below average range. He has a verbal score of 82, which falls in the 12th percentile and a performance score of 73, which places him in the 4th percentile. Anthony is therefore functioning at below average intelligence.

On a structured inventory of symptoms of mental and emotional disorders, specifically designed for use with adolescents, (MAYSI), Anthony endorsed several symptoms that he has experienced in the past few months. Some of the endorsed symptoms involved having done things you wished you hadn’t because you were drunk or high, feeling lonely too much of the time, have been drunk or high at school, get frustrated a lot, and having a hard time feeling close to people outside of your family.

As part of his evaluation, Anthony was screened for the presence of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Based on behavioral observations and Anthony’s self-report, it appears likely that Anthony meets the criteria for ADHD. Further observation and evaluation is necessary to definitively make this diagnosis.

 

Description of Current Offenses

 

He was arrested on May 20, 2002 and is being charged with Robbery, Car Jacking, Conspiracy, Theft, VUFA, PIC, Simple Assault, REAP and Unauthorized Use of Auto. According to the complainants, Anthony and another young male car jacked a van at gun point. There were three individuals in the van when it was stolen. According to the witnesses, Anthony and the other boy walked past the van, at which time the women in the van saw their faces, they then put masks over their faces and car jacked the van. When one of the woman from the van saw Anthony at school the next day, she recognized him and informed the school police officer. Anthony was then arrested. 

 

Treatment Need and Amenability

 

There are five areas in which Anthony has treatment / rehabilitation needs that, if addressed, might work to reduce his risk for future antisocial behavior. These areas include substance abuse, continued education and training in educational and vocational areas, training in impulse control, anger management, decision-making and problem-solving, the development of more positive peer relationships, treatment for previous child sexual abuse and ongoing monitoring and periodic evaluation of his mental health needs.

First, Anthony would benefit from treatment for substance abuse. Anthony reported significant substance abuse beginning around age 13. Anthony endorsed items on the MAYSI related to being high at school as well as getting into trouble while being high or drunk. He has attended several drug and alcohol treatment programs, yet he continues to use marijuana. Treatment for his substance abuse would most likely have significant risk reduction value for Anthony.

Second, continued education and vocation training would be of great benefit to Anthony. Anthony’s is presently functioning at a very low academic level. Because of his age, and lack of previous job related experience, Anthony would benefit from training in both specific job skills and functional academic areas related to his areas of interests. Anthony displayed significant deficits on all three areas measured by the WRAT-3. He reported a desire to pursue a career with children, perhaps social work; receiving training and obtaining a job in this area, may work to reduce future antisocial behaviors.

Third, Anthony would benefit from training in impulse control, anger management, decision-making and problem-solving abilities. Anthony reported that when making decisions, he consults his foster father, but reports no other decision-making skills.  Because Anthony has been involved in several fights, this shows that Anthony would benefit from anger management and impulse control training. Teaching Anthony skills related to these would help to reduce the amount of antisocial behaviors, decrease risk behavior, recognize and avoid “high risk” situations and improve his decision-making abilities.

The fourth treatment need is the need for the development of more positive peer relationships. According to both Anthony and Mr. C., Anthony makes poor decisions regarding choice of friends. Which is illustrated by the commission of this crime with one of his peers. Through his present group of peers, Anthony was introduced to the use of marijuana and PCP. By learning to develop more positive peer relationships, his risk for future antisocial behaviors will be decreased.

The fifth treatment need relates to receiving treatment for his previous child sexual abuse. Anthony reports being sexually abused by his older brother for several months. Neither his self-report nor his Psycho Social Summary assert that he ever received treatment for the abuse. Many victims of child sexual abuse have residual symptoms if they are left untreated. By receiving treatment for the abuse, his risk of antisocial behavior may be decreased.

Finally, Anthony needs ongoing monitoring and periodic evaluation of his mental health needs, including further observation and evaluation for the possible presence of ADHD. Anthony’s condition and the medications he is receiving should be continuously monitored and periodically monitored.  By controlling the symptoms of his ADHD, his potential future antisocial acts, may be decreased.

 
Conclusions

 

In the opinion of the undersigned, based on all of the above, Anthony has treatment/rehabilitation needs in the following areas:

  1. Treatment of substance abuse
  2. Continued education and training in educational and vocational areas
  3. Training in impulse control, anger management, decision-making and problem-solving
  4. The development of more positive peer relationships
  5. Treatment for previous child sexual abuse
  6. Ongoing monitoring and periodic evaluation of his mental health needs.

 

Considering his lack of prior offenses and the current risk factors (recent history of substance abuse, poor-decision making, negative peers), Anthony presents as a low to moderate risk for future offending. His amenability to the interventions described, based on his self-report and his test scores, appears mixed. If these interventions can be made successful, Anthony’s risk of future offending should be reduced. A secure residential facility that has an intervention specifically designed for adolescent males may be appropriate for Anthony.

It is my opinion that these needs can be met in the juvenile system if the court were to retain jurisdiction over Anthony for the time remaining until his 21st birthday.

 

            Thank you for the opportunity to evaluate Anthony G.

 

Kristen Fescoe, MS

 

** The preceding report was written as a writing sample.