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Patients benefit from ASH’s Competency Restoration

Date: 12/27/2017

The Arkansas State Hospital (ASH) strives to treat patients in a steady, reasonable manner.          

The Competency Restoration program is forefront among the ways for ASH to execute its primary agenda. The initiative prepares patients to properly speak for themselves and assist their attorney during a trial. By law, placing a person in the judicial process if they’re officially declared confused or mentally disabled is prohibited.

"Competency Restoration is an outstanding program, featuring cutting edge interventions, which help with court education," said Clinical Program Director Rebecca Spohn.    

"The concept of going to court can be very intimidating for certain individuals."

Patients who have been charged with a crime, but are declared unable to appropriately conduct themselves in court – due to being ill or emotionally impaired – are assigned to Competency Restoration. Individuals designated for the program are deemed not to present a behavioral risk. A patient completing treatment within a year is the goal. In some instances, a patient may finish Competency Restoration in just 4-to-6 months.   

A key component of the project is a massive mural that displays a trial in progress.  The mural is designed to enhance a patient’s ability to focus, upon entering a courtroom.

Twice a week, patients study the mural to gain an understanding of who’s handling a specific task during a hearing.

Competency Restoration also features a small mock-courtroom where staff and patients participate in a fabricated trial.

"I know of only one other facility that has a mock courtroom, it's in Texas,” Spohn said. “But we are the only facility which has an accompanying mural.

“The courtroom provides a real feeling of what it will be like instead of just having conversations about it. The mock courtroom experience is showing patients what they’ll likely encounter.”                  

Competency Restoration’s value is immeasurable. 

“Many of our clients aren't in a position to study the material on their own or to be lectured on it,” Spohn stated. “Therefore, seeing the mural or being in a mock courtroom experience for individuals who aren't equipped to read info – as they attempt to become prepared for court – is highly important.” 


Cutline: In the photo above, Dr. Rebecca Spohn, clinical program director at Arkansas State Hospital, stands in front of a life-sized courtroom mural in an educational room at the Little Rock-based facility.  The mural is used through the hospital’s Competency Restoration program to teach patients about the court process and to make them more comfortable in the courtroom environment.  

Arkansas Department
of Human Services
(501) 682-1001

TTY: 1-800-285-1131 or dial 711 for Arkansas Relay Service

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