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August 01, 2018

In 2017, the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors Research Institute (NRI) found there had been a rise in the number of forensic patients, particularly individuals found incompetent to stand trial (IST), at state psychiatric hospitals for inpatient services between 1999 and 2014. To learn about why this increase is occurring, this study examined the perspective of the criminal justice officials that have the power to order the admission of an IST defendant to a state psychiatric hospital for competency restoration services: Judges. The results from this study shed light on who judges perceive as having the ability to determine whether or not a defendant is competent to stand trial and on the types of mental health services that they feel their communities require in order to reduce the number of IST defendants being sent to state psychiatric hospitals. While judges account for the viewpoint of only one type of criminal justice stakeholder, their pivotal role within the criminal justice system makes their perspectives important. It is important to understand how the viewpoints of mental health and criminal justice stakeholder differ on this topic. Recognizing these different perspectives promotes better communication between stakeholders.


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