Factors affecting jail detention of defendants adjudicated incompetent to proceed

Authors


  • These analyses were part of Jacqueline Finch's University of South Florida undergraduate honors thesis and an extension of a project that was part of her National Science Foundation Funded Research Experience for Undergraduates in mental health services research (grant no. 0552428; PI: Paul Stiles, Ph.D.)

Abstract

The movement of defendants through the legal process who have been adjudicated incompetent to proceed is little studied, yet it is important. The purpose of this study was to provide empirical data regarding factors that affected the amount of time defendants adjudicated incompetent to proceed and ordered to undergo hospitalization remained in jail while awaiting transfer to a state hospital. Statewide data collected in Florida between July 2005 and June 2008 were used to determine the lengths of time incompetent defendants spent at certain stages in the legal process. The addition of forensic bed capacity following media attention and litigation resulted in a significant decrease in the amount of time defendants adjudicated incompetent to proceed waited in jail for transfer to a state hospital for treatment. The amount of time it took for completed commitment orders to be submitted to the state mental health authority by the Clerks of Court of each county accounted for a meaningful portion of days defendants spent in jail awaiting transfer to a state hospital, with considerable variation across counties with respect to waiting times. These findings reflect how various stakeholders can affect the amount of time defendants spend in jail while awaiting hospitalization. These issues are discussed in the context of controversy related to Florida's forensic mental health system, as well as issues related to the political process and funding of the state's mental health authority. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Ancillary