Comment: a summary and conclusion

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By Shedrick Hutson

Five times since 1999, I’ve been to the Marion Correctional and Treatment Center, the Virginia Department of Corrections’ answer to an inpatient mental health facility. I am currently incarcerated at Red Onion State Penitentiary in the Long Term Segregation Building due to a five day delay in delivering my psychic medication and my response to an officer’s persistent threats. I am currently under orders from the current caretaker of the building I am housed in to take my medication as prescribed or face punishment.

I added dr. Bruner’s full 5-page psychological evaluation, which was ordered by the courts. It was done on 9-24-94.

By enclosing a copy of the full evaluation with this letter I hope that others in a relatable situation with options can avoid my fate or for those already struggling to survive and cope, read it and know that they are not the are alone in their desolation. The side of the road leading to the prison is littered with forgotten stumblers.


Psychological evaluation

Reason for Referral: Shedrick was referred for psychological evaluation by court order. Information from the evaluation would be used to determine treatment and placement.

Observations: Shedrick is a tall young man of average weight for his height. He was dressed in a T-shirt and jeans on the day of the evaluation. He was somewhat impulsive and nervous, but had no trouble understanding or meeting the requirements of the test. He seemed to be doing his very best and the results below we believe accurately reflect his current level of functioning in the areas measured.

Shedrick’s affect was one of palpable anger. When asked about this, he readily admitted that he had been angry “for many years”. He said that sometimes his anger becomes severe and he experiences anger. He has considered harming himself or others if he gets very angry. Shedrick said he is angry “all the time”. While he hinted that he knew the source of his lingering anger, he said he didn’t want to discuss it with the examiner.

Given Shedrick’s level of anger, his arson attacks are foreboding. Shedrick said he doesn’t set fire intentionally, but he is fascinated with fire and has often played with fire because it’s interesting. He denied having any problem with control of his firing.

He said he agreed to the test because he wanted to leave St. Joseph’s Villa. Shedrick said he didn’t like the Villa staff because they “insinuate” that he does things like smoke when he doesn’t. He said he swears at the staff. In the past, he admitted to fighting often at school and usually winning. He said that when he got mad at his mother, he just left the house.

Shedrick said he used to feel depressed, but now he doesn’t usually feel that way anymore. He reported seeing a psychiatrist a few times when he was 9 or 10, but said he quickly dropped out of therapy.

Intellectual functioning:

WAIS-R Percentile Classification

Verbal IQ: 114 82 High Medium

Performance IQ: 99 47 Average

Full scale IQ: 108 70 average

Subset scored scaled:

Verbal performance

Information 10(12) Complement Image 8(8)

Digit Range 10(11) Image Arrangement 11(12)

Vocabulary 10(11) Black design 8(8)

Math 10(11) Object Assembly 13(14)

Concept 9(10) Number Symbol 7(7)

Similarities 13(14)

Shedrick functions in the upper limits of the average intelligence range. There is a significant difference between his average performance skills and his high average verbal skills. There is also some discrepancy between the performance subtests, suggesting uneven skill development.

Of the WAIS-R’s verbal subtests, Shedrick scored in the average range relative to peers on subtests measuring his immediate memory, his ability to perform sensory judgment. In the high average range were his knowledge of general information and his knowledge of vocabulary words. In the superior range was Shedrick’s ability to establish similarities between dissimilar items.

Of the performance subtests, Shedrick scored in the low average range on a subtest that required him to quickly memorize and code numbers and symbols. In the average range were his attention to detail and his skill in assembling abstract designs from parts. In the high average range was his ability to align cause and effect. Shedrick scored in the superior range on a measure of his skill in assembling everyday objects from parts.

This is a young man who should be able to progress in school easily from year to year. The fact that he failed to do so suggests that factors other than his intelligence level may have hindered his performance. Shedrick’s lack of school attendance and difficulty getting along with others seem to have prevented him from performing as he could have.

Performance Screening:

WIAT Percentile Standard Score Grade

Basic Reading 39 96 9-7

Mathematics Reasoning 34 94 9-4

Spelling 39 96 8-6

Shedrick’s performance in reading and spelling matches his measured level of intellectual functioning. His score in mathematical reasoning is worse than would be expected for one of his skills. Careless mistakes were responsible for this, as he consistently chose an appropriate strategy to solve the problems and then made mistakes in execution. He does not appear to have a learning disability.

Visual Motor Functioning: Shedrick made no mistakes on the Bender, as would be expected for someone his age and level. intelligence. He has no visual-motor dysfunction.

Social-Emotional Functioning: Both projective testing and observational and interview information point to a severely disturbed young man. Shedrick is angry, depressed and has no hope for the future. The contact with reality is sufficient, but Shedrick perceives his current situation in a way that is colored by his past experiences. This sometimes leads to inappropriate responses that can be confusing to others.

Shedrick seems to have no empathy. He deals poorly with emotions and does not perceive emotional warmth or nurturing in his environment. He is detached and alienated from others and anticipates criticism or conflict in interpersonal relationships. He does not appear to be emotionally close to peers or family members.

Sexual identity is appropriate. Self-esteem is poor, consistent with the many problems Shedrick has experienced. His lack of conformity to typical rules regarding school attendance and behavior has led to a sense of independence that exceeds that of many people his age. Unfortunately, he lags far behind his peers in his ability to relate to and care about others.

Summary and Conclusions: Shedrick functions in the upper limits of the average intelligence range. His reading and spelling performance matches his intellectual abilities, but his math skills are worse than expected. However, Shedrick does not appear to have a specific learning disability. His poor score in math seemed to be due to careless mistakes rather than lack of ability. Shedrick has no visual-motor dysfunction.

Shedrick’s degree of chronic anger, his level of depression, and his hopelessness of worry. He admits to having an almost lifelong fascination with fire and lacks empathy for others. He also admits to having an almost lifelong fascination with fire and having no empathy for others. He also admits to having periods of anger where he considered harming himself or others. Evaluation was requested because of his arson.

This researcher suggests that this young man needs treatment to address his anger, his depression, his hopelessness, his alienation, his fascination with fire, and his lack of empathy for others. At this point, Shedrick appears to be a danger to others and possibly himself. He should not be placed in a typical placement situation where he receives minimal handling and maximum autonomy.

Any placement for Shedrick must be able to meet both his need for comprehensive treatment and his need for placement. Outpatient treatment has not been successful because he and his family have not continued to cooperate. Shedrick’s mother no longer wants him in her home, limiting her motivation to participate in family counseling. Shedrick has the ability to benefit from insight-focused therapy and, due to his age and intelligence, could participate individually rather than with family members.

If Shedrick can be placed in a residential treatment facility with very close supervision and needs therapy, this could be ideal. He may be eligible for treatment in an inpatient psychiatric facility. If not, he should be assessed for medical intervention and treatment with a placement where he poses no risk to the well-being of those around him. Possible placement and treatment within the Corrections Department is expected unless extensive treatment is performed very soon.

Thanks for this interesting reference,

Patricia Bruner

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