Justice: Mental fitness Mental fitness test costly

NNSL (OCT 04/96) - A territorial court judge says it's too expensive to send suspected criminals to southern institutions for psychiatric assessments.

Judge Thomas Davis said during a recent hearing that the government pays between $20,000 and $30,000 -- sometimes more -- for a standard 30-day assessment.

The assessments are used to determine whether someone charged with a crime is mentally fit to stand trial.

Davis made the comments Tuesday in response to lawyer Brent Clute's suggestion that he might be seeking a court order to have his client assessed.

According to Davis, a local psychologist could make a preliminary diagnosis in a matter of hours.

Only if he or she decides a full-scale assessment is required would the courts pay for southern tests.

"It would only cost the government a few hundred dollars," Davis said. "That's the approach we're trying to take."

Clute's client later said he didn't want an assessment.

Police recently charged the man with assaulting a peace officer.

He is also charged with a number of violent offences in connection with an incident that allegedly took place earlier this year in Gjoa Haven.

The man is scheduled to appear in territorial court again next Tuesday and he is being held in custody until that time.