Faculty Sponsor

Holly Cross


Arts and Sciences



ORCID Identifier(s)


Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Summer 7-29-2022


The number of referrals for competency to stand trial (CST) evaluations nationally are overwhelming the criminal justice system. In several states, there have been lawsuits challenging the timeliness of these evaluations as a violation of rights to a fair and speedy trial. Washington is one of those states that has seen a sharp increase in referral rates in recent years, which may be caused by the notable increases in population, homelessness, and crime rates. Trueblood vs. DSHS (2015), a lawsuit against Washington's Department of Health, found delays in CST evaluations and restoration led to an unlawful delay in proceedings. Trueblood resulted in substantial policy changes such as: increased hiring efforts, diversion programs, and a 2019 Senate Bill 5444 to address this competency crisis, just before the onset of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. CST data is published by Washington state agencies which was retrieved and evaluated using a multilevel growth curve model. This model investigated the impact of Trueblood policies on CST referral rates while accounting for changes in population, crime, homelessness, and the on-set of COVID-19. The results reveal a reduction in misdemeanor referral rates following the implementation of SB5444 and Trueblood legislation, suggesting these policies have been effective. However, results also indicate this decrease occurred at the same time COVID-19 precautions were implemented. This finding suggests that COVID-19, not policy changes from Trueblood, is the main cause of decreased referrals, and referral rates are expected to increase as Washington adjusts its COVID-19 regulations.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Kayla is a May 2022 graduate with a degree in psychology. She finds the intersection of psychology and law fascinating. This project cultivated her interest in policy analysis while satisfying her passion for advocating for equity in mental health resources. Kayla just accepted a case manager position at Porter County Jail where she will be helping incarcerated individuals prepare for re-entry into the community and eventually hopes to attend graduate school for clinical forensic psychology.