In the Mortality in Correctional Institutions collection (MCI), custody refers to the physical holding of an inmate in a facility. It also includes the period during which a correctional authority maintains a chain of custody over an inmate. For instance, if a jail transports an ill inmate to a hospital for medical services and that inmate dies while in the chain of custody of the jail, that death is counted as a death in custody. A death that occurs when an inmate is not in the custody of a correctional authority is considered beyond the scope of the MCI. Out-of-scope deaths include inmates on escape status or under the supervision of community corrections, specifically inmates on probation, parole, or home-electronic monitoring.
In addition to felony criminal matters, prosecutors’ offices handled a variety of other case types. A greater number of prosecutors’ offices reported computer-based offenses and taking on homeland security responsibilities. In 2005, 60% of all state court prosecutors reported prosecuting crimes under the state’s computer crime statute, compared to 42% in 2001. About 80% of all offices reported handling credit card fraud, bankcard fraud (71%), identity theft (70%), and transmitting child pornography in 2005.
Full-time prosecutors’ offices were more likely to report prosecuting cases related to terrorism or participating in terrorism related investigations, compared to small full-time offices or part-time offices. In 2005, 2% of all prosecutor offices reported prosecuting cases related to terrorism; 7% actively participated in terrorism related investigations; and a third had members of the staff attend training on homeland security issues. Nearly a quarter of all offices participated in state or local task forces for homeland security.
Staffing and budget increases experienced by state court prosecutors' offices in the 1990s generally leveled off by 2001. Resources available to state court prosecutors' offices in 2005 were similar to those in 2001. In 2005 state court prosecutors' offices employed approximately 78,000 attorneys, investigators and support staff, had a median annual budget of $355,000, and closed about 250 or more felony cases.
In 2005, 24% of prosecutors’ offices reported problems recruiting new staff, and 35% had problems retaining staff attorneys. Thirty-seven percent of full-time medium offices and 27% of full-time large offices reported problems recruiting new staff attorneys, compared to 11% of part-time offices. Among offices identifying staff retention and recruitment problems, salary was the number one concern.
The Prosecutors in State Courts statistical series began in 1990. The series focuses on the nation's 2,300 state court prosecutors' offices that handle felony cases in state courts of general jurisdiction. The National District Attorneys Association (NDAA), prosecutors across the nation, and individuals interested in acquiring a better understanding of state prosecutor operations extensively use the data on the number of staff, annual budget, criminal caseloads, and other office characteristics. The 2007 National Census of State Court Prosecutors (NCSP), currently underway, will provide more recent estimates. See Prosecutors in State Courts, 2005, to read more about prosecutors in state courts in 2005.
Results from the Civil Justice Survey of State Courts, 2005, show that 61% of civil cases concluded by trial involved a tort claim in which plaintiffs alleged injury, loss, or damage from the negligent or intentional acts of defendants. Cases dealing with allegations of breach of contract (contract cases) accounted for 33% of trials, and real property cases accounted for about 6%. The most frequent kinds of civil cases disposed of by trial were motor vehicle accident (35%), seller plaintiff (11%), buyer plaintiff (10%), and medical malpractice (9%).
Overall, plaintiffs won in 56% of all tort and contract trials in 2005. The rate of plaintiff success varied according to the type of case litigated. Plaintiff win rates were not applicable to real property trials.
Plaintiffs were more likely to win in contract cases (66%) than in tort cases (52%). Mortgage foreclosure (89%), animal attack (75%), and seller plaintiff (75%) cases had the highest percentage of plaintiffs who prevailed. Plaintiffs won in over half of the trials for motor vehicle accidents (64%), employment discrimination (61%), and product liability (55%) cases, but prevailed in less than a third of medical malpractice (23%) cases.
The 2005 Civil Justice Survey of State Courts (CJSSC) shows that about 26,950 tort, contact, and real property cases were disposed of by bench or jury trial in state courts of general jurisdiction nationwide. This amounts to a trial rate of approximately 3% for all general civil cases filed in 2005. Of the almost 27,000 trials, 68% were jury trials while in the remaining 32%, litigants waived their rights to a jury trial and had their cases heard before a judge only. See Civil Bench and Jury Trials in State Courts, 2005.
In 2005 estimated $6 billion in compensatory and punitive damages was awarded to plaintiffs who won in civil trials. The median amount awarded to plaintiff winners in all trial cases was $28,000. Contract trials garnered higher median awards ($35,000), compared to tort trials ($24,000). About 10% of plaintiffs who won in general civil trials were awarded over $250,000 in total damages while about 4% were awarded $1 million or more.