Volume 35, Issue 2 (March 1990)
Incompetency to Stand Trial: Treatment Unaffected by Demographic Variables
The results of previous studies of the assessment of a defendant's competence to stand trial have suggested that demographic characteristics of the defendant have influenced diagnostic and treatment decisions. This study investigated the effect of three such demographic characteristics on the length of treatment of defendants committed because of incompetency to stand trial. Length of treatment was chosen because it had been the focus of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Jackson v. Indiana. The institution from which data were analyzed was the North Florida Evaluation and Treatment Center, a forensic mental health treatment center located in Gainesville, Florida. The records of 1090 defendants committed for such treatment between 1978 and 1984 were coded and collected. The demographic composition of the institution was found to parallel that found in the prior studies and to reflect that of the criminal justice system generally. Statistical analysis, using linear regression, revealed, contrary to researchers' expectations, that length of treatment did not appear to be influenced by the demographic factors of race, education, or marital status.