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Black’s Law Dictionary defines competency as “Duly qualified; answering all requirements; adequate; suitable; sufficient; capable; legally fit.” But competency when related to our work as social workers, mitigation specialists, and sentencing advocates is not so cut and dry. Some jurisdictions have lengthy waits for competency restoration programs, and sometimes competency restoration seems arbitrary. This meetup will talk about how we become attuned to issues of competency, what happens when competency is raised by attorneys in the jurisdictions where we work, what our role is, and what happens afterwards. Bring your knowledge and experience to this discussion!

Stephanne Cline Thornton is a West Virginia native who has worked in and around criminal defense and mitigation for more than 20 years in Georgia, Colorado, and West Virginia. She is currently the Social Work Training and Resource Coordinator for NAPD, Clinical Director for the West Virginia Judicial and Lawyer Assistance Program, and owner of Transform Legal, a consultancy focused on mitigation, training, and sustainability. As a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and Master Addiction Counselor, Stephanne focuses on proper assessment for and access to trauma and substance use disorder treatment to ensure the health and well-being of affected individuals. Stephanne is on the Trauma-Informed Care Network Speakers Bureau and uses that platform to call attention to the intersection of secondary traumatic stress and legal practice. She approaches her work with clients, lawyers, social workers, and mitigation specialists through a contextualized mitigation lens.