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August 1987

Incompetency to Stand Trial: Appropriateness and Outcome

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1987;44(8):754-758. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1987.01800200082012

• Of 85 persons (38% of those found incompetent to stand trial in Los Angeles County in 1983), 92% were currently charged with felonies and 62% with crimes of violence. Eightyseven percent had a history of serious physical violence against persons and 68% had prior felony arrests. This study indicated that in this jurisdiction, incompetency to stand trial is not being used to divert mentally ill persons, charged with minor offenses, into intermediate or long-term psychiatric hospitalization to circumvent obstacles such as restrictive commitment laws and rapid hospital discharge policies. The lack of adequate postrelease planning and follow-up for most of these chronically and severely mentally ill offenders was clear. Neither the criminal justice nor the mental health system is inclined to take responsibility for their care. Mandatory community treatment on release is recommended.