The National Judicial College recently launched a new website (www.mentalcompetency.org) that provides information and resources on a best practices model for handling mental competence issues in the criminal justice and mental health systems. The website was launched as the culmination of a large project wherein a panel of experts worked to determine what the best practices were in this area.
Mental Competency – Best Practices Model
The Best Practices Model includes information on the best practices for all aspects of mental competence in the criminal justice and mental health systems, including: the initial competency hearing and order for evaluation; competency evaluation; competency report; competency treatment plan; hearing for determination of competency; competency restoration; post-restoration competency evaluation; maintaining competency and preventing decompensation; competency restoration hearing; plea hearings or trial; discharge or civil commitment hearing; competency court or docket; education; and statewide, regional, and/or jurisdictional and court collaboration. A thorough review of each of these areas is presented and the best practices for each area are delineated.
Panel of Experts
A panel of 29 experts from across the United States worked together to determine these best practices. The panel consisted of experts from numerous disciplines and included: psychologists, psychiatrists, lawyers, judges, chiefs of police, court administrators, and other experts involved in the criminal justice and mental health systems.
A vast compilation of resources to assist those who work in various aspects of the criminal justice and mental health systems with individuals whose mental competency is at issue is available on the website. The resources include references to articles and books, court cases, forms, guides and standards, studies, and videos. Later this year the National Judicial College will also begin a series of webinars to assist professionals working in this area.
Ongoing Assistance from the National Judicial College
The National Judicial College, through a grant from the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, is available to provide technical assistance to states, courts, or jurisdictions wishing to implement the best practices model or aspects of the model.