Due Process for Forensic Patients

Due Process for Forensic Patients [past initiative]

“IST-N” Patients

A special category of persons (estimated to number 200-300) are being held involuntarily in the forensic units of state hospitals in Georgia. These forensic patients have been charged with a crime but have been determined to be incompetent to stand trial. In other words, the presiding judge has determined that the accused is incapable of understanding the charges and of assisting defense counsel. Furthermore, the judge has determined that no treatment or therapy will restore the individual’s competency. These individuals are often referred to as “IST-Ns.”

Lawyers with the Disability Integration Project of the Atlanta Legal Aid Society (“ALAS”) contacted Georgia Appleseed to raise concerns that some of these IST-N patients are not being managed in a way that fully complies with applicable state law.

Systemic Solutions

ALAS has and will continue to represent individual IST-Ns in an effort to redress any deprivation of due process and to remedy any noncompliance with the law on a case by case basis. Georgia Appleseed, on the other hand, seeks to determine whether there are necessary changes or clarifications of law or policy that would provide a broader based systemic solution to any such problem.

Georgia Appleseed has met with ALAS personnel and with representatives of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability (the agency with responsibility for managing the forensic units at state hospitals) on several occasions. There is a consensus that better understanding by all stakeholders of the requirements of the law and of the availability of community-based alternatives to inpatient commitment would be an important step in this effort.

September 20, 2016: Community Services and Procedures for People Found Incompetent to Stand Trial/Nonrestorable Training

On September 20, Georgia Appleseed, in partnership with the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities and the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, sponsored a forum for lawyers, judges, social workers, and other stakeholders to educate about law and policy issues addressing the "IST-N" population. View the program materials and video recordings from the training below.

Agenda: Welcome and Program Overview
Speakers: Rob Rhodes, Amy Howell, and Dr. Karen Bailey

DBHDD Forensic Hospital Procedures Regarding Discharge Planning
Speakers: Dr. Karen Bailey and Lisa Kuglar

Community Mental Health and Developmental Disability Services Available to Forensic Individuals
Speakers: Dr. Karen Bailey, Dr. Terri Timberlake, Beth Shaw, Doug Scott, Pejman Mahdavi, LCSW

Addressing Stigma Associated with IST-N Individuals
Gab Rich, Atlanta Legal Aid Society
Sharon Williams, Georgia Mental Heath Consumer Network
Tariq Abdur Rashid, Georgia Mental Heath Consumer Network

Advocating for an IST-N Individual Evaluating Civil Commitment Criteria, Reviewing Discharge Planning, Requesting Release/Community Services
Susan Walker Goico, Atlanta Legal Aid
Annie C. Deets, Law Office of the DeKalb Public Defender
Ken Mauldin, District Attorney, Athens-Clarke/Oconee Counties
Greg Bagley, DBHDD Legal Department

A View from the Bench: Judges Discuss Challenges & Successes in IST-N Cases
Judge Doris L. Downs, Superior Court of Fulton County
Judge Marc E. D'Antonio, Probate Court of Muscogee County
Judge Kathy Gosselin, Superior Court of Hall and Dawson Counties