People charged with crimes must be competent to understand the court process and the possible outcomes of that process. If any representative of the judicial process questions whether a person is competent, the court may order a competency examination. The Outpatient Competency Examination Program completes these examinations. A majority of these examinations are conducted in county jails.
- Department: means the Department of Health Services (DHS)
- Contract Provider: means the mental health provider under contract to DHS who has contractual responsibility for working with the examiners in the county ordering the competency examination to arrange the time of the examination, gather information, etc.
- Wisconsin Forensic Unit (WFU): means the group of examiners under contract to the DHS to conduct competency examinations on behalf of the DHS.
- Contracted Examiner: means the DHS approved examiner who performs competency examinations on behalf of the DHS and has signed a contract to work with the Wisconsin Forensic Unit.
- Crisis Situation: means a situation which occurs in the county jail where the defendant is being housed pending the examination by the DHS and is generally described as one in which the defendant is at high risk for harm to him/herself in the jail setting or the mental health needs of the defendant can not reasonably be met by the staff in the jail until the examination and hearing have been held.
Wis. Stat. § 971.14(2)(am) specifies that if DHS is ordered by the court to conduct an examination under this section, DHS determines whether it will be conducting the examination on an outpatient or inpatient basis. DHS will normally conduct these examinations on an outpatient basis (outside the custody of one of the state mental health institutes) unless a situation arises which in the opinion of DHS, requires conducting the examination in an inpatient setting.
The court orders an examination conducted by DHS.
DHS assumes an outpatient examination is appropriate.
- The court sets a hearing date on the competency examination to occur 15 days after the examination is ordered. Place the date on the court order (CR-205). If the report is completed earlier, DHS requests that the hearing be moved up if at all possible.
- Attach a copy of the criminal complaint and all pertinent mental health records to the court order (CR-205).
The Clerk of Circuit Courts contacts:
Wisconsin Forensic Unit
821 W. State Street, Room 504
Milwaukee, WI 53233
The clerk will fax the court order and criminal complaint to WFU and establish with WFU the location of the defendant (jail or elsewhere).
The WFU contract examiner will generate the report and fax the report to the court, district attorney, and defense attorney. Follow with hard copy to the court and the appropriate contract provider.
Acute situations where defendant can not remain in jail:
- If an acute mental health situation arises while the defendant is in the jail awaiting an outpatient competency examination, jail staff will contact local county mental health staff who work with the jail for consultation. County crisis staff will contact the Wisconsin Forensic Unit (WFU) 414-278-4690, to determine when the examination is scheduled to occur. If the defendant can be managed until examination date, the defendant will remain in jail. If WFU determines that the defendant cannot be managed in the jail safely, WFU will coordinate a transfer to Mendota Mental Health Institute (MMHI) or Winnebago Mental Health Institute (WMHI) on the Order for Competency Examination.
- Calls received in a non-emergency situation where the court prefers an inpatient examination will be referred to Deborah Collins, Psy.D., ABPP (Forensic) Director, Wisconsin Forensic Unit, at 414-278-4690.
- Calls received in emergency situations where the jail staff and county mental health staff determined the individual cannot be managed in the jail safely will be handled as follows:
Monday-Friday (8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)
- MMHI: Call 608-301-1352
- WMHI: Call 920-235-4910
Monday-Friday After 4:30 p.m./Weekends/Holidays
- MMHI: Call 608-301-1386 or 608-301-1060 and request the nursing supervisor be paged.
- WMHI: Call 920-235-4910 and request the house supervisor be paged.