U.S. Department of Commerce

National Prisoner Statistics

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PURPOSE

To provide national and State level data on the numbers of prisoners in State and Federal prison, including their characteristics, movements, and history.

COVERAGE

Data are collected from all fifty States and the District of Columbia. Census depends entirely upon the voluntary participation of State Department of Corrections and the Federal Bureau of Prisons for NPS data.

CONTENT

National information on the populations confined in correctional institutions. The NPS distinguishes between prisoners in custody and prisoners under jurisdiction. To have custody of a prisoner, a State or Federal system must hold that prisoner in one of its facilities. To have jurisdiction over a prisoner, a State or Federal system must have legal authority over the prisoner. The surveys also collect data about the facilities and the race and gender of the inmates.

FREQUENCY

Begun in 1926 under a mandate from Congress, the National Prisoner Statistics program collects statistics on prisoners at midyear and year end.

METHODS

There are two different types of data collection: a paper questionnaire and a web reporting option.

PRODUCTS

Prisoners in (Year) and Prison Inmates at Midyear are bulletins published by the Bureau of Justice Statistics approximately one year after the reference period. They provide the number of inmates in custody of State and Federal prisons and compare the national totals to year-end and midyear counts for previous years. The report provides State-level incarceration rates and the percentage change in each population during the year. The bulletins also include a national description of the race, gender, and offense composition of these populations. This is followed by a release of detailed tables presenting characteristics of the inmate populations by State.

USES

The Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, researchers, policymakers, and practitioners use the data to measure prisoner growth patterns and to identify factors related to its growth.

SPECIAL FEATURES

RELATED PROGRAMS

Census of Governments

Annual Survey of Jails

Annual Parole & Probation Surveys


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