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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 76893 Find in a Library
Title: Study of Criminal Defendants Referred for Multiple Psychiatric Examinations Regarding Their Competency To Stand Trial
Journal: Journal of Forensic Sciences  Volume:26  Issue:2  Dated:(April 1981)  Pages:416-423
Author(s): H Bluestone; J Melella; D Baskin
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 8
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study examined the demographic characteristics and the criminal and psychiatric histories of criminal defendants referred for multiple psychiatric examinations regarding their competency to stand trial.
Abstract: Subjects were 137 defendants who had been charged and referred for evaluation at least twice to the Court clinic of the Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center Department of Psychiatry. The data were expected to reflect the consequence of deinstitutionalization in New York State. The findings showed that the typical subject was a black or Hispanic male, unmarried, living alone, of average intelligence, and had about 9 years of education. He had received inpatient psychiatric care within the past year at a State mental hospital, and he was being charged with assault, burglary, or robbery. Moreover, he was diagnosed as schizophrenic. The greater number of times he was charged and evaluated, the more likely he was to be found incompetent. For the subject group, 19 judges had ordered 65 percent of the evaluations, whereas an additional 73 judges were responsible for ordering the remaining 35 percent. The higher incompetency rate among subjects who had been evaluated more than twice may reflect the doctors' judgements. Doctors seeing individuals as 'sick' and in need of treatment may have been interpreting and structuring their reports in such a way as to allow the individual to receive proper treatment. Further study is required to determine why judges refer defendants for evaluations and why, as was also revealed here, charged and evaluated subjects received either no psychiatric care or inpatient care alone. The option of outpatient care was neglected. It is suggested that the 'volleying' of mentally ill people between the criminal justice system and the mental health system neither protects society nor provides for the care of those affected. Data tables and a six-item reference list are included.
Index Term(s): Competency to stand trial; Deinstitutionalization; Mentally ill offenders; New York
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