Juvenile Competency Restoration in Texas: Factors Associated with Remediation in Inpatient Settings



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When juveniles are found unfit to proceed, they can be remanded to a juvenile restoration program which may involve both treating the underlying condition impeding competence and providing education on the legal process. There is little research in the field regarding individual factors which may increase or decrease the likelihood of successful competency restoration, potentially due to low sample sizes and differences between jurisdictions governing provision of services. More studies are needed to inform effective provision of juvenile competency restoration services, as it affects a vulnerable population with unique considerations including developmental immaturity. The present study utilized data collected by retrospective file review of 213 youth admitted to the Texas state hospital system for juvenile competency restoration between January 1, 2010, and December 31, 2020. Results revealed restoration referral rates were generally increasing until 2018 and have since declined, and 65% of the youth in this sample were successfully restored. Notably, less than one third of the entire sample had been referred specifically for inpatient restoration services, suggesting inpatient service provision may not be the most appropriate or least restrictive environment for most of the youth referred for restoration. Demographic, clinical, and treatment variables were examined to determine which factors were associated with juveniles’ restoration of competence. Several individual demographic and clinical factors were associated with successful competency restoration (e.g., intellectual disability), while other factors did not yield statistically significant findings (e.g., age). Further, binary logistic regression results revealed main effects for IQ and sex, such that the odds of being found competent increased as IQ increased or if the person was female. The findings in the current study highlight the need to consider individual factors, particularly cognitive functioning or deficits, when providing remediation services. In order for the juvenile justice system to be considered rehabilitative as intended, it is critical to ensure youths’ due process rights are protected and they receive effective empirically supported interventions.



Psychology, Clinical