People found incompetent to stand trial are more likely to be unemployed, have been previously diagnosed with a psychotic disorder or have had psychiatric hospitalization, according to an analysis of 50 years of research, published by the American Psychological Association.
"Competency to stand trial evaluations have been regarded as the most significant mental health inquiry pursued in the system of criminal law," said the paper's lead author, Gianni Pirelli, PhD, who conducted the research at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York and is presently on staff at Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in New Jersey.
The paper, published in the APA journal Psychology, Public Policy and Law, examined results of 68 studies from 1967 to 2008 to help determine which variables are most closely related to findings of incompetency, as well as which measures are best to use in competency evaluations. Combined, the studies' participants totaled 26,139 individuals, with 6,428 found incompetent and 19,711 found competent. Only approximately half of the studies included female participants.
The current legal standard for competency to stand trial is based on a 1960 Supreme Court ruling in Dusky v. United States that determined a defendant is competent if "he has sufficient present ability to consult with his lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding – and whether he has a rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings against him," the article states.
The paper analyzed comparisons among demographic, psychiatric and criminal variables for competent and incompetent defendants. It found that defendants diagnosed with a psychotic disorder were approximately eight times more likely to be found incompetent, and unemployed defendants were twice as likely to be found incompetent. The likelihood of being found incompetent was also double for defendants with a previous psychiatric hospitalization.
Additionally, in contrast to a competent defendant, those found to be incompetent were slightly older, predominantly non-white and unmarried, the research showed. Regarding similarities between competent and incompetent defendants, the study found the majority were male, had a prior arrest history, a current violent criminal charge and an average of about 10 years of education.
Competency test data "must be integrated with information obtained from clinical interviews, other relevant test data and observation/reports from collateral sources," the authors wrote. They emphasized the importance of competency evaluations and the risks if these evaluations are conducted poorly, including allowing an incompetent defendant to stand trial or violating a defendant's civil rights by temporarily committing him or her to a psychiatric facility.
Article: "A Meta-Analytic Review of Competency to Stand Trial Research," Gianni Pirelli, PhD, The Graduate Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York (CUNY); William H. Gottdiener, PhD, and Patricia A. Zapf, PhD, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY; Psychology, Public Policy, & Law, Vol. 17, Issue 1.
Full text of the article is available from the APA Public Affairs Office and at: http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/law-17-1-1.pdf
Contact Dr. Gianni Pirelli at email@example.com
The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 150,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare.
Lisa Bowen | EurekAlert!
New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)
Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.
In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
17.05.2017 | Event News
24.05.2017 | Life Sciences
24.05.2017 | Life Sciences
24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy