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Competency courts: A creative solution for restoring competency to the competency process.

Finkle, Michael J.
June 4, 2015

Source: (2009) Behavioral Sciences and the Law. 27: 767-786.

It is well accepted that jail is a poor setting for treating the
acutely mentally ill, yet the number of mentally ill persons
in jail has increased such that Los Angeles County Jail and
Riker’s Island in New York house more mentally ill than
any psychiatric hospital. The number of mentally ill persons
charged with a crime whose competency to stand trial
is in question has also increased dramatically. Inefficiencies
within the competency process result in mentally ill
persons charged with crimes remaining in jail longer than
necessary. One solution is ‘‘competency court’’, a specialty
court within a mental health court. The same judges,
attorneys, and mental health professionals staff both
courts. By combining their Mental Health Court experience,
they can work with the mentally ill using their expertise
in competency law and processes, and thereby improve
the competency process and reduce the unnecessary time
that mentally ill persons spend in jail. (author’s abstract)


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