Competency restoration: an examination of the differences between defendants predicted restorable and not restorable to competency

Law Hum Behav. 2003 Apr;27(2):127-39. doi: 10.1023/a:1022566328781.


According to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Jackson v. Indiana (1972), examiners must determine if a defendant has "substantial" probability of regaining competency through treatment "in the foreseeable future." Previous research has indicated that, given the low base rate of defendants unable to be restored to competency, examiners are relatively poor at predicting which defendants will regain competency. Determining the characteristics of not restorable incompetent defendants and restorable incompetent defendants is a necessary first step toward improving examiners' ability to predict a defendant's likelihood of regaining competency. This study examined the competency evaluation reports of 468 defendants evaluated for competency to stand trial. Incompetent defendants significantly differed from competent defendants with regard to age, employment status, ethnicity, criminal charges, and psychiatric diagnosis. Few significant differences existed between defendants predicted restorable and those predicted not restorable by mental health examiners--the differences that did exist were related mainly to nonpsychiatric variables.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alabama
  • Female
  • Forensic Psychiatry*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Competency / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Mental Competency / psychology*
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Observer Variation
  • Prognosis