Collects inmate death records from each of the nation's 50 state prison systems, Federal Bureau of Prisons, and approximately 2,800 local jail jurisdictions. Between 2003 and 2014, BJS also collected data on persons who died while in the process of arrest.
Death records include information on decedent personal characteristics (age, race or Hispanic origin, and sex), decedent criminal background (legal status, offense type, and time served), and the death itself (date, time, location, and cause of death, as well as information on the autopsy and medical treatment provided for any illness or disease).
Data collections covering these populations were developed in annual phases: Annual collection of individual death records from local jail facilities began in 2000, followed by a separate collection for state prison facilities in 2001. Collection of state juvenile correctional agencies began in 2002 but was discontinued in 2006, and collection of arrest-related death records began in 2003. Due to concerns regarding data quality and coverage issues, BJS temporarily suspended the arrest-related death (ARD) portion of the DCRP in 2014. Datasets are produced in an annual format.
In 2016, the Department of Justice (DOJ) decided to place more emphasis on the section of Death in Custody Reporting Act reauthorization law (P.L. 113-242) that concerned non-compliance with the data collection. Per the law, states that did not report on a quarterly basis individual-level data on deaths occurring in local jails, in state prisons, or in the process of arrest, could be penalized up to 10% of their DOJ-sponsored Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) awards. As a federal statistical agency, BJS data may not be used for enforcement purposes. Therefore, DOJ determined that the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) should manage collection of the data pursuant to the law, since BJA is not under similar requirements to collect data for statistical purposes only. (The Report of the Attorney General to Congress Pursuant to The Death in Custody Reporting Act, December 16, 2016, is located at:
BJS finished collection of deaths that occurred during the 2019 calendar year in December, 2020, and formally closed the MCI collection on March 31, 2021. BJS will publish the 2019 results by the end of 2021.
Mortality in Correctional Institutions (MCI) (formerly Deaths in Custody Reporting Program (DCRP)) is a voluntary data collection conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). BJS annually collects data on individual death records for all persons incarcerated in state prison or local jail facilities. Between 2003 and 2014, BJS also collected data on persons who died while in the process of arrest.
The MCI began in 2000 in response to the passage of the Death in Custody Reporting Act (DCRA) of 2000 (P.L. 106-297). The MCI collects many, but not all, of the elements outlined in the Death in Custody Reporting Act reauthorization (P.L. 113-242), but because the MCI is collected for statistical purposes only, it cannot be used for DCRA enforcement.
Jails report the death of any inmate in their custody, even if the inmate was being held for another jurisdiction, such as the state department of corrections, another state or county, or the federal government. Jail deaths include the death of any inmate sent outside the jail facility for medical, mental health, or substance abuse treatment services, or for work-release programs. Deaths that occur while an inmate is in transit to or from the jail facility are included. Deaths of jail inmates on temporary furloughs or who escaped from the jail facility are excluded. BJS annually collects death records and year-end collections of population and admissions data from all jail jurisdictions nationwide. An average of 98% of the approximately 2,800 jail jurisdictions in the United States have reported to the MCI (formerly DCRP) since 2000.
State prisoner death counts include the death of any inmate held in a private prison facility under contract to the state's department of corrections. Deaths of inmates in private facilities are counted in the state that had jurisdiction over the inmate, not the state where the private facility is located. State prisons report the death of any inmate sent outside the prison facility for treatment services or for work-release programs. Deaths that occur while a prisoner is in transit to or from the prison are included. Deaths of prisoners on temporary furloughs or who escaped from the prison facility are excluded. Executions are excluded because capital punishment cases are tracked under the National Prisoner Statistics (NPS) program. In each year all 50 state departments of corrections responded to the collection. The District of Columbia submitted prison population data until 2001, then it transferred all custody operations to the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP).
Until 2015, the BOP reported aggregate death counts to BJS. Starting with the 2015 reference year, the BOP submitted detailed data about each prisoner's death.
When the DCRA of 2000 was passed, only two states (California and Texas) collected information on all types of arrest-related deaths. For the remaining 48 states and the District of Columbia, the DCRP collection was the first attempt to perform a comprehensive count of all arrest-related deaths. BJS worked with state officials to determine which agency would collect arrest-related death reports. A state criminal justice commission, commonly administered by the governor's office, was the most common data reporting contact (22 states), followed by the state attorney general and state police department (8 states each). In five states, the department of corrections took a lead role in compiling records. In over 30 states, the reporting office also served as a state criminal justice Statistical Analysis Center (SAC).
Due to concerns regarding data quality and coverage issues, BJS temporarily suspended the arrest-related death (ARD) portion of the DCRP in 2014.
Death Report on Inmates Under Jail Jurisdiction CJ-9
Annual Summary on Inmates Under Jail Jurisdiction CJ-9A
Death Report on Inmates in Private and Multi-Jurisdictional Jails CJ-10
Annual Summary on Inmates in Private and Multi-Jurisdiction Jails CJ-10A
Annual Summary of Inmate Deaths in State Prisons NPS-4
State Prison Inmate Death Report NPS-4A
Quarterly Summary Arrest-Related Deaths CJ-11 (Formerly Quarterly Summary of Deaths in Law Enforcement Custody)
Arrest Related Deaths CJ-11A (Formerly Law Enforcement Custodial Death Report)
Annual Summary on Inmates Under Jail Jurisdiction CJ-9 A/5
Deaths in Custody: State and Local Law Enforcement Arrest-Related Deaths, 2003-2006 - Statistical Tables
Since 2007, BJS has given respondents the option to report throughout the collection year as death investigations are finalized. In earlier collection years, BJS requested respondents report on a quarterly basis.
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) assumed responsibility for the juvenile portion of the collection in 2006.
In 2008, BJS began collecting more specific information on the manner of death for suicides and deaths due to intoxication. In 2009, BJS changed and added several items on the data collection forms after receiving feedback from the field. These changes include clarifying language of existing items and adding new items. For jails and prisons, new items ask respondents—
- whether the deceased ever had an overnight stay in a mental health facility since admission
- whether the death was incidental to use of force by facility staff
- to specify the type of intoxication that led to the death.
For prisons, BJS dropped the item asking for legal status because nearly all prisoners are convicted at the time of death. Prison items include whether a death due to accident, suicide, or homicide took place while the inmate was housed on death row.