Date of Award

1999

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

William F. Waters

Abstract

Competency to stand trial refers to a defendant's ability to consult with his attorney with a reasonable degree of factual and rational understanding of the proceedings against him. If declared incompetent to stand trial by the courts, judicial proceedings are postponed until a defendant's competency deficits are remediated. However, there is a paucity of data on treatment of individuals who have been declared incompetent to stand trial. This study evaluated the effectiveness of individualized treatment on competency restoration in pretrial patients. This investigation improved upon previous group treatment studies, all but one of which were uncontrolled. Treatment groups were: Deficit-Focused Remediation - DFRT (6 individual sessions + 4 group sessions; N = 8), Legal Rights Education Control - LRE (6 individual sessions + 4 group sessions; N = 10), and Standard Hospital Treatment - SHT (4 group sessions; N = 8). Results indicated no significant baseline differences among groups. All groups differed significantly from pretest to posttest on competency measures. The DFRT and the LRE groups both demonstrated significantly greater post-treatment scores on competency measures than the SHT group. Both groups demonstrated approximately 50% more improvement on the competency measures than the SHT group. There were no significant differences between the DFRT and LRE groups on post-test competency scores, indicating that focus on individual deficits is not a useful treatment strategy. Results demonstrate more frequent individualized legal rights education is a worthwhile endeavor in treatment of incompetency. Limitations and parameters of this study as well as applications and future directions are discussed.

ISBN

9780599548565

Pages

110

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