The corruptibility of the CAST*MR

Phillip J. Sanguedolce (1997)

Confronting the challenges presented by criminal defendants with mental retardation has emerged as a major issue in judicial chambers and legislative offices. One such challenge centers on the assessment of competency to stand trial. The Competency for Standing Trial Assessment for Defendants with Mental Retardation (CAST-MR) Everington (1990) was developed to better address the unique characteristics and limitations of individuals with mental retardation. This study was designed to investigate whether or not CAST$\sp{\*}$MR performance can be corrupted through training. The test was administered to two groups of men with mild mental retardation. Both groups were retested two weeks later. The Experimental Group received a twenty minute didactic training two hours prior to the second administration. Results indicated that the scores of the Experimental Group significantly increased while the scores of the Control Group remained relatively stable. The results supported the hypothesis that the CAST$\sp{\*}$MR is vulnerable to corruption through training. The finding that CAST$\sp{\*}$MR scores could be changed raised the possibility that performance could be purposefully corrupted in order to secure a predetermined outcome. Recommendations cited the need for additional research, strict maintenance of test security, and the development of alternative administration strategies. It was also recommended that use of the test be limited to trained psychologists, and that the test should be used in conjunction with other assessment tools and techniques.