Forensic Mental Health in Vermont

PRS Briefs
Tuesday, April 5, 2022

In the legal system, incompetent individuals are deemed mentally unfit to testify or stand trial by the court. Competency restoration is the mental health treatment provided to legally incompetent defendants so that they can fully participate in judicial proceedings. The current U.S. competency restoration system prevents people from receiving effective psychological help. These issues have surfaced in Vermont, where the state legislature is focused on creating policies to protect mentally ill defendants and to ensure that the community remains safe. This report aims to aid Vermont officials in enacting updated competency restoration legislation. We begin with an overview of the competency restoration crisis in the United States, followed by an analysis of current Vermont policy. Next, we offer a comprehensive research methodology for a case study investigation of competency restoration programs around the country. More specifically, we identify Florida, Connecticut, and Georgia as possible states of interest. In the research methodologies section, we also describe the three most common types of treatment programs for incompetent individuals. Finally, we conclude with a presentation of our findings and policy recommendations for Vermont competency restoration programs.