Just and Well: Rethinking How States Approach Competency to Stand Trial


ncsl reports

The competency to stand trial process is designed to protect the rights of people who do not understand the charges against them and are unable to assist in their own defense. But across the country, this process has become increasingly overburdened and delayed, causing people to languish in jail while states contend with the high associated costs.

just and well report ncslSeeking solutions to these serious challenges, the organizational co-authors of this report gathered a group of national advisors to find a way forward. This report outlines the 10 most effective strategies state officials can pursue to improve the competency to stand trial process. Its recommendations represent a consensus view of what competency to stand trial should ideally look like.

The Council of State Governments Justice Center prepared this report in partnership with the American Psychiatric Association Foundation, the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, the National Center for State Courts, and NCSL as a project of the Judges and Psychiatrists Leadership Initiative. Hallie Fader-Towe and Ethan Kelly are the primary authors of the report.

NCSL staff, Colorado Representative Mike Weissman (D), Montana Representative Barry Usher (R) and Ohio Senator Theresa Gavarone (R) all contributed to this report and participated in an advisory meeting with other experts in October 2019, where this report was conceptualized.

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