Identifier

etd-07062007-103649

Degree

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Psychology

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

Competency to Stand Trial (CST), also known as adjudicative competency, remains an important issue for both judicial and mental health systems, and much effort is invested in research designed to define, assess and determine what factors are most relevant for restoring CST. The purpose of this study was to provide information that might improve the ability to predict which individuals would eventually become competent. Archival data were reviewed for 79 inpatient defendants referred for competency restoration treatment. Although information was incomplete, comparisons were made between those who remained incompetent (IST; n =15) and those who were restored to competency (CST; n = 43) as determined by scores on the Georgia Court Competency Test (GCCT-MSH) in concert with clinical judgments. There was no difference between these two groups on demographic variables, intellectual capacity, the type of offense (violent vs. nonviolent), clinical diagnosis, substance abuse, or symptomatology, as measured by the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS). However, 1) the CST group performed significantly better on both, the initial and final GCCT and Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) scale and 2) the severity of psychotic symptoms decreased significantly for the CST group, but not the IST group, including the total score, positive symptoms, negative symptoms, and resistance score. This significant within-group decrease in psychotic symptomatology was presumably the reason that the CST group was discharged significantly sooner (7.7 ± 8.6 months) than the IST group (17.9 ± 7.0 months). Although the number of individuals was small, these results are consistent with previous research demonstrating the importance of psychiatric variables in efforts to restore CST. Additionally, the data from this population provides the first evidence to demonstrate what types of specific psychiatric symptomatology and functioning are associated with changes in competency while also providing unique insight as to how clinicians make decisions about a defendant’s competency to stand trial.

Date

2007

Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

William Drew Gouiver

Included in

Psychology Commons

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