"Lock 'Em Up And Throw Away The Key": The Involuntary Treatment and Commitment of Incompetent Criminal Defendants
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractTo respect the rights owed to a person in the legal process, defendants must be able to understand the criminal legal proceedings against them. In legal terms, a defendant must be competent to stand trial. If a prosecutor, defense attorney, or judge questions a defendant's competency, the legal proceedings stop until evaluations can be conducted. Competency evaluations are one of the most common evaluations conducted within the legal system. Approximately 10,000-18,000 defendants per year are found incompetent and sent to competency restoration services (Gowensmith, Frost, Speelman, Therson, 2016). Competency restoration involves one or both of the following: educating a defendant about the legal process, and/or medication to resolve symptoms of mental illness, making restoration both a legal and mental health issue. This creates conflict between the defendant's mental health and due process and the court's pursuit of justice. This paper reviews important federal and state cases, rulings, and research related to the involuntary commitment and treatment of criminal defendants found not competent to stand trial. After discussing the implications of cases, rulings, and research on this subject, this paper discusses how the restoration of those found incompetent to stand trial can best satisfy both legal and psychological interests.
Degree ProgramHonors College