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State in Interest of D.F.

November 3, 1975


Page, P.J.J.D.R.C.


The juvenile, D.F., is a 15-year-old boy who has been adjudicated delinquent on 17 separate charges of breaking, entering and larceny. He is before the court for placement, after extensive dispositional hearings.

D.F. is the second of eight children. His father is a salesman and his mother a housewife. Although his I.Q. has ranged, in testing, from 118 to 135, the boy has had considerable problems at school. He has last attended the tenth grade in Haddonfield High School. This community has upper-middle to upper class families with a strong school system.

D.F. first became known to the juvenile justice system when, at age 13, he appeared before the juvenile conference committee on a charge of bicycle theft. Prior to this time he had a number of psychological evaluations and was in therapy at a local guidance clinic.

From the time of his appearance before the juvenile conference committee, up to his present offenses, he underwent psychotherapy with Dr. L. J. Byerly. Dr. Byerly is a well-respected child and adolescent psychiatrist in the South Jersey area. He is board-certified in both child and adult psychiatry and his academic credentials include professorships

at Columbia and University of Pennsylvania Medical College, as well as a number of medical publications.

It is his opinion that D.F. suffers from a major psychiatric disturbance which he diagnosed as "a Narcissistic Personality with borderline features." Dr. Byerly stated that D.F. has been psychotic at certain times. It was his considered judgment that unless the boy receives intense individual psychotherapy in an institutional setting, he could move into an irretrievable psychotic condition.

Dr. Byerly stated, "I would hospitalize D.F. [in an] advanced psychiatric facility." He recommended The Institute of Living at Hartford, Connecticut, or the Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital. He noted that whatever placement was made for D.F. would have to include a full range of psychiatric services, including group and individual, and chemotherapy.

With respect to possible incarceration of D.F. at the State Training School For Boys at Jamesburg, Dr. Byerly felt that any type of penal incarceration would cause D.F. to withdraw and go into a depressive state, leading to a more permanent psychosis. When questioned about a residential placement in a private preparatory school such as George Junior Republic, Dr. Byerly maintained that this would not be adequate to meet his psychiatric needs.

James McFalls, a caseworker with six months' experience, testified on behalf of the State Division of Youth and Family Service (hereinafter, the Division.) It was his agency's recommendation that the boy be placed in George Junior Republic, even though he admitted that he did not know specifically the services provided there and had never, in fact, placed a child in that private school.

On recall by the court, after Dr. Byerly's testimony, McFalls candidly admitted that it was his personal opinion that the boy needed the treatment provided in a psychiatric institution in preference to a residential school. Neither McFalls nor Deputy Attorney General Tolentino could present

the court with an alternative for D.F. but stated that his case was still under consideration in Trenton.

Mrs. Marilyn Sebastian testified as an officer from the Family Intake Unit of the Juvenile Court. She was a juvenile probation officer 4 1/2 years prior to becoming an intake officer ten months ago. She has placed a number of children in both George Junior Republic and psychiatric facilities, including the institutes recommended. It was her opinion that George Junior Republic was not an appropriate placement as it does not have the kind of psychiatric facilities available to handle D.F.

Dr. Barbara Messick testified as the school psychologist of the Haddonfield school district. She has considerable experience working with children and adolescents, both in the school district and previously at the Bancroft School. She noted that "[a]n emotional disturbance is holding down his I.Q. and functioning." She testified that it was the opinion of the child study team from Haddonfield that D.F. receive immediate placement in a structured, contained psychiatric facility. She said he needed intensive individual therapy, rather than penal institutionalization. Dr. Messick was of the opinion that something must be done immediately and even recommended that D.F. be held in the children's shelter until a bed could be found for him in a psychiatric institution. She felt that the Haddonfield school district would be willing to pay its share of the costs at a residential psychiatric facility under the Beadleston Act, N.J.S.A. 18A:46-2 et seq.

Following certain initial findings and determinations of this court, a supplemental dispositional hearing was held. At that hearing Mrs. Sebastian was recalled and testified that she had contacted the George Junior Republic School in New York and was advised that there were no psychiatric services available. She further advised that she had applied on behalf of D.F., to the three psychiatric facilities mentioned in the testimony, The Institute of Living at Hartford, Connecticut, The Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital

and Devereaux Institute. She had received rejections from both The Institute of Living and Devereaux. The Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital accepted D.F. ...

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