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 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.
According to the 2019 BJS Survey of Law Enforcement Personnel in Schools (SLEPS), there was a total of about 24,900 sworn SROs employed by about 5,500 local police departments, sheriffs’ offices, and school district police departments.
In 2022, 18 inmates were executed in the United States. The Bureau of Justice Statistics' (BJS) Capital Punishment reports present characteristics of persons under sentence of death and persons executed, and summarize the movement of prisoners into and out of death sentence status. See Prisoners executed under civil authority in the United States, by year, region, and jurisdiction for additional data on executions.
The NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 (NIAA), Pub. L. 110-180, was signed into law by the President on January 8, 2008. The NIAA amends the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 ("the Brady Act") (Pub. L. 103-159), under which the Attorney General established the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The Brady Act requires Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) to contact the NICS before transferring a firearm to an unlicensed person for information on whether the proposed transferee is prohibited from receiving or possessing a firearm under state or federal law. The NIAA was a bipartisan effort to strengthen the NICS by increasing the quantity and quality of relevant records accessible to the system.
The NIAA was enacted in the wake of the April 2007 shooting tragedy at Virginia Tech. The Virginia Tech shooter was able to purchase firearms from an FFL because information about his prohibiting mental health history was not available to the NICS and the system was therefore unable to deny the transfer of the firearms used in the shootings. The NICS is a critical tool in keeping firearms out of the hands of prohibited persons, but it is only as effective as the information entered into the databases upon which it relies. The NIAA seeks to address the gap in information available to NICS about such prohibiting mental health adjudications and commitments and other prohibiting backgrounds. Filling these information gaps will better enable the system to operate as intended to keep guns out of the hands of persons prohibited by federal or state law from receiving or possessing firearms.
The NICS is a national system that checks available records in three databases to determine if prospective transferees are disqualified from receiving firearms. It is administered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). A NICS check includes a check of the following three databases that are maintained by the FBI:
- Interstate Identification Index (III), a database of criminal history record information,
- National Crime Information Center (NCIC), which includes information on persons subject to civil protection orders and arrest warrants
- NICS Indices, which includes the information contributed by federal and state agencies identifying persons prohibited from possessing firearms who are not included in the III or NCIC, such as persons with a prohibiting mental health history or who are illegal or unlawful aliens.
When the transferee is not a U.S. citizen, a separate query is run to confirm the transferee's immigration status. If a NICS check identifies a person as falling within a prohibited category, the FBI advises the FFL that the transfer is "denied." Individuals can appeal denials and seek correction of information in the FBI databases by either applying to the FBI or the federal or state agency that contributed the information to the FBI.
The Gun Control Act of 1968, as amended, 18 U.S.C. 921, et seq., establishes the following categories of persons who are prohibited from receiving or possessing a firearm: Any person pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 922(g) or (n) who—
- has been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year
- is a fugitive from justice
- is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance
- has been adjudicated as a mental defective or who has been committed to a mental institution
- is an illegal or unlawful alien or a non-immigrant alien (with certain exceptions)
- has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions
- having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced his citizenship
- is subject to a domestic violence protection order that meets certain requirements
- has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence
- is under indictment for or has been charged with a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.
Section 922(g)(4), Title 18, United States Code, prohibits the receipt or possession of firearms by an individual who has been "adjudicated as a mental defective" or "committed to a mental institution." Regulations issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), 27 C.F.R. § 478.11, define these terms as follows:
Adjudicated as a mental defective.
(1) A determination by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority that a person, as a result of marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease—
- is a danger to himself or to others
- lacks the mental capacity to contract or manage his own affairs.
(2) The term shall include —
- a finding of insanity by a court in a criminal case
- those persons found incompetent to stand trial or found not guilty by reason of lack of mental responsibility pursuant to articles 50a and 72b of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, 10 U.S.C. 850a, 876b.
Committed to a mental institution. A formal commitment of a person to a mental institution by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority. The term includes a commitment to a mental institution involuntarily and a commitment for mental defectiveness or mental illness. It also includes commitments for other reasons, such as for drug use. The term does not include a person in a mental institution for observation or a voluntary admission to a mental institution.
No. The NICS does not maintain a database of medical records or information on mental health diagnoses or treatment plans. When a record of a person prohibited from possessing a firearm as a result of mental health issues (i.e., a person who has been involuntarily committed to a mental institution or adjudicated a "mental defective" by a court, board, or other lawful authority) is entered in the NICS Indices, the entry contains only a name, other biographic identifiers (e.g., date of birth), and codes for the submitting entity and prohibited category. The NICS Indices does not contain medical records or medical information.
When information about such adjudications and commitments is provided to the NICS, the FBI can deny firearm transfers to persons with disqualifying mental health histories, both in the state where the record was created and in other states to which the individual may have subsequently moved.
The information in the NICS is subject to the Privacy Act and the privacy of the information is protected in a number of ways. The only responses provided by the NICS to a request for a NICS check is "Proceed," "Denied," or "Delayed." In cases of a "Denied" response, neither the general prohibiting category nor information about the specific event that places an individual in that prohibited category is provided to the FFL. The individual, however, is able to request information about the reason for the denial from the FBI and can appeal the denial and seek to correct incomplete or inaccurate information in the system upon which the denial is based.
In addition, as noted above, the information identifying mental health adjudications or commitments contributed by federal and state agencies is maintained in the NICS Indices. The regulations governing the NICS limits the use of the NICS Indices to (1) checks under the Brady Act by FFLs of proposed firearms transferees; (2) checks by federal, state, or local criminal justice agencies in connection with the issuance of a firearms-related or explosives-related license or permit; and (3) requests by ATF in connection with civil or criminal law enforcement relating to the federal Gun Control Act (18 U.S.C. Chapter 44) or National Firearms Act (26 U.S.C. Chapter 53). Checks of the NICS Indices for general law enforcement purposes are not permitted under the regulations. See 28 CFR. 25.6(j).
The NIAA seeks to improve the information available to the NICS, so that the system can more accurately identify prohibited persons, by—
- enhancing the Brady Act requirement that federal departments and agencies provide relevant information to the NICS
- providing incentives to states to submit complete information to the Attorney General on persons prohibited from receiving or possessing firearms through—
- authorizing new grant programs for state executive and judicial branch agencies to improve information available to the NICS
- providing for Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program penalties for states that do not comply with the Act's record completeness goals.
FOR STATES: The NIAA has provisions that encourage states to meet specified goals for completeness of the records submitted to the Attorney General on individuals prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms. The records covered include automated information needed by the NICS to identify felony convictions, felony indictments, fugitives from justice, drug arrests and convictions, federally prohibiting mental health adjudications and commitments, domestic violence protection orders, and misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence. The Act provides for a number of incentives for states to meet the goals it sets for greater record completeness.
- First, the Act allows states to obtain a waiver, beginning in 2011, of the National Criminal History Improvement Program's (NCHIP) state matching requirement for NCHIP grants, if a state provides at least 90 percent of its records identifying the specified prohibited persons.
- Second, the Act authorizes a separate grant program to be administered consistent with NCHIP, for state executive and judicial agencies to establish and upgrade information automation and identification technologies for timely submission of final criminal record dispositions and other information relevant to NICS checks. Up to 5% of the grants may be reserved for Indian tribal governments and judicial systems.
- Finally, the Act provides for discretionary and mandatory Byrne grant penalties for non-compliance with record completeness requirements: During the 2-year period beginning 3 years after the date of enactment of the Act, up to 3% may be withheld in the case of less than 50% completeness; during the 5-year period beginning 5 years after the date of enactment of the Act, up to 4% may be withheld in the case of less than 70% completeness; thereafter, 5% must be withheld in the case of less than 90% completeness (although the mandatory reduction can be waived if there is substantial evidence of the state making a reasonable effort to comply).
IN THE FEDERAL SYSTEM: The NIAA creates an independent statutory obligation for federal agencies to report records identifying prohibited persons to the Attorney General no less than quarterly. It also requires federal agencies that issue prohibiting mental health adjudications or commitments establish a program under which a person subject to such an adjudication or commitment can apply for relief from his or her firearms disability according to standards under 18 U.S.C. § 925(c). Additionally, the Act provides that a prohibiting adjudication or commitment issued by a federal agency or department may be nullified in certain instances by a qualified set aside, expungement, release from mandatory treatment, or other specified means.
CHANGE TO THE MENTAL HEALTH PROHIBITOR: Prior to the NIAA, section 922(g)(4) was effectively a lifetime prohibition on possessing firearms by any person "who had been adjudicated a mental defective or who has been committed to a mental institution." The Act, however, provides that when relief is granted under a federal or state relief from disabilities program that meets the requirements of the Act, or when certain automatic relief conditions are met with respect to persons federally adjudicated or committed, the event giving rise to the mental health disability is "deemed not to have occurred" for purposes of the federal firearm prohibition.
There are two conditions that each state must satisfy before being eligible to receive grants:
- First, a state must provide to the Attorney General a "reasonable estimate," based on a methodology established by the Attorney General, of records subject to the Act's completeness requirements.
- Second, a state must certify, to the satisfaction of the Attorney General, that the state has implemented a program permitting persons who have been adjudicated a mental defective or committed to a mental institution to obtain relief from the firearms disabilities imposed by law as a result of such adjudication or commitment. This relief must be granted, in accordance with principles of due process, by a state court, board, commission, or other lawful authority. The relief must be based on a finding that the circumstances of the disability and the person's record and reputation are such that the person will not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to the public safety and that the granting of relief would not be contrary to the public interest.
Before the enactment of the NICS Improvement Act, a person's adjudication as a mental defective or commitment to a mental institution was effectively a lifetime prohibition. Concerns were expressed to Congress about the permanence of this prohibitor and the life-long effect it would have on persons whose mental health adjudication or commitment records would be provided to the NICS under the Act's provisions. To address these concerns, the Act included not only provisions to require or promote the sharing of the existence of information about this disability for use by the NICS, but also provisions that require or authorize the establishment of federal and state programs that allow individuals to seek relief from the federal mental health firearms disability if circumstances warrant. As of December 2017, 31 states have enacted relief programs that have been certified by the state and approved by ATF.
ATF is available to answer questions about whether existing state laws meet the standards contemplated for the state relief from disability programs contemplated in the NICS Improvement Act. ATF is also available to provide technical assistance to states seeking to establish such programs under the Act. Also see State Relief from Disabilities Program Criteria.
The Act requires the Attorney General to establish for use by the states a methodology to calculate estimates of the total number of records in each of the subcategories of records subject to the grant program's reporting requirements. The Justice Department's Bureau of Justice of Statistics (BJS) developed a data collection instrument setting forth this methodology to send to each state's NCHIP point of contact agency. In doing so, BJS coordinated with representatives of the state criminal justice information repositories, state court administrators, the National Center for State Courts, the National Association of State Mental Health Directors, and others to obtain input on state record-keeping practices to help inform the development of a methodology. The previous data collection, State Estimates of Available Records Information Collection, approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), was sent to each state for completion. To date, BJS has received estimates from 47 jurisdictions. A Frequently Asked Questions document was also available to assist respondents in completing the form. Three years of data have been collected to date. The NICS Improvement Amendments Act: State Records Estimates Development and Validation Project, Year Three Report provides information on the results of the third year of collection. BJS is continuing to work with state and federal partners to explore revised methodologies to assess record completeness and availability.
Recognizing the need to automate state record systems that contribute most of the relevant information to the FBI record systems that would be checked by the NICS, the Brady Act established NCHIP, a program of grants to be used by the states to create or improve computerized criminal history record systems, assist in the transmittal of criminal records for use by the NICS, and improve access to the NICS. NCHIP is administered by the Department's Office of Justice Programs through the Bureau of Justice Statistics. At the state level, NCHIP grants are administered by state agencies designated by the Governor for this purpose. Since 1995, NCHIP has provided over $699 million in grants to the states to improve the automation of their record systems that contribute to the FBI information used in NICS checks.
Notwithstanding these efforts under NCHIP and the tremendous progress the state and federal criminal justice information repositories have made in record automation since 1995, the databases checked by the FBI are still missing significant percentages of relevant data that originate in the states, including final dispositions of records of arrests for prohibiting offenses, records of convictions for domestic violence misdemeanor offenses, and information identifying persons with prohibiting domestic violence protection orders or with disqualifying mental health adjudications and commitments.
The NICS Improvement Act grant programs do not supplant NCHIP. Rather, the NICS Improvement Act grants are to be made in a manner "consistent with" and "in accordance with" NCHIP. The major difference from NCHIP is that the NICS Improvement Act grants may only be used for specified purposes that are related to achieving the completeness goals for the records directly related to NICS checks. In addition, the NICS Improvement Act authorizes a separate grant program for funding that is dedicated to be used by state courts systems, where most of the disposition information missing from the national repositories originates.
Fifteen states received NICS Improvement Amendments Act funding in FY 2017, totaling $11.2 million.
For more information on state-specific projects go to State-by-State Information.
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.
The Identity Theft Supplement (ITS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) captures person-level information on identity theft against persons age 16 or older.
BJS has several reports that present statistics on race and crime. The Race/Ethnicity page contains more information on how race and ethnicity are measured and a listing of our most recent reports on this topic.
The NCJRS Virtual Library/Abstracts Database is not compatible with the program EndNote.
Many of the publications from NCJRS sponsor agencies and those housed in the NCJRS Virtual Library Abstracts Database collection are available at local libraries. NCJRS provides the "Find in a Library" service for you to search these collections. At times, it may be faster, cheaper, and/or more convenient to access documents found within the NCJRS Virtual Library at a local library.
From an abstract detail page, when you click on the Find in a Library link, NCJRS will send a formatted search to WorldCat, a consortium of over 10,000 libraries worldwide. On the WorldCat site, you can discover if the document you are interested in is available in a local library.
To learn more, view the Obtain Materials section of the Virtual Library Tutorial.
Yes, there are fees for interlibrary loans (ILL). ILLs within the United States have a fee of $15.00 per item while loans to Canada have a fee of $16.50 (USD) per item loaned. ILLs are only available to patrons in the United States and Canada. See the Interlibrary Loan section of our site for additional information about this service and how to request an ILL.
Resources may be borrowed from the NCJRS Library via interlibrary loan for a period of 6 weeks. An additional 6-week extension is available by request. See the Interlibrary Loan section of our site for additional information about this service.
The National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) Virtual Library Abstracts Database houses materials and resources produced and/or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs (OJP). Prior to October 2014, the Library collected resources from a wide variety of sources (i.e., research organizations, journal publishers, etc.). These materials remain available through the NCJRS collection.
The collection covers the broad subject areas of criminal and juvenile justice, as well as related fields of study. Topics including corrections, law enforcement, drugs and crime, juvenile justice, and crime victims are comprehensively covered. Similarly, more focused subjects within these broad topics are also covered, such as technology in law enforcement, domestic violence, drug policy, and youth violence.
You can receive weekly notifications of NCJRS Virtual Library additions by subscribing to the NCJRS Weekly Accessions List (WAL).
Items may be ordered via Interlibrary Loan (ILL) through your local or University library using the standard American Library Association ILL form. Please work with your local librarian to complete the form and submit the request. The completed form, along with pre-payment, should be submitted to NCJRS by mail or email:
P.O. Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
Payment ($15 per item in the U.S.; $16.50 per item for loans to Canada) is accepted by Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover or U.S./Canadian government purchase order. Note that all purchase order invoices must be paid by a credit card.
Additionally, many publications in the Virtual Library are available at local libraries. Use the "Find in a Library" service to search these collections and discover if the document you are interested in is available at a local library. To learn more about this, visit the Virtual Library Services page.
BJS included an opioid addendum in the 2019 Census of Jails and released a report on this topic.
The Census Bureau has regulations to protect confidentiality of data, which prevents the public release of any information from small areas that might make it possible to identify individuals who participated in the survey. Geographically identified data from the NCVS can be made available to researchers on a restricted basis by applying for access through the Standard Application Process. For more information see: https://bjs.ojp.gov/standard-application-process.
Though the NCVS was originally designed to provide national level estimates of criminal victimization, BJS has recognized an increasing need for victimization data at the state and local level and has developed multiple approaches for obtaining subnational NCVS estimates. (See NCVS Subnational Estimates for additional information about these approaches.) However, caution should be used when working with the restricted use files since sample at the local level may be limited and is not necessarily representative of the area as a whole.
Data collections vary in scope, burden, and frequency of collection (see individual data collection descriptions for more information). Generally, BJS collects data both from administrative records and from interviews with prison and jail inmates. All data collections must be approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) prior to fielding, which takes several months. Collections must be resubmitted for approval every 3 years (sooner if there are changes in the data collection). For data that are collected through inmate interviews, there must also be an Institutional Review Board (IRB) to protect human subjects (prior to OMB submission), and individual jurisdictions may require additional reviews prior to participation.
All data collection is voluntary. Without a specific mandate by Congress, no jurisdiction is compelled to participate in our data collections; individual surveys are conducted only with persons granting formal consent to participate. Most jurisdictions choose to participate because the information is helpful for policy and practice and may be used to allocate funding. It takes time to achieve a complete enumeration, particularly in times of staff shortages and budget cuts in many levels of government.
Administrative collections are sent out close to the reference date in the survey and are due to BJS 2 to 3 months later. Most respondents submit the data on time, but for various reasons, other jurisdictions take longer to submit the data. BJS staff or contractor staff work with jurisdictions to obtain the necessary information, which can take an additional 3 months.
After data are collected, they must then be cleaned, weighted (in the case of sample populations), and analyzed. BJS staff has several methods of release, including a formal report, statistical/electronic tables, or a summary brief. All data are fully verified prior to release. Keeping in mind that each data collection is different and the times may vary significantly depending on the collection of interest, provided below is an average data collection and processing timetable:
Collection, 5–6 months (from reference date) for administrative surveys; 8–12 for interview surveys
Cleaning/weighting, 1–2 months for administrative surveys; 3–6 for interview surveys
Analysis/verification, 2–12 months, depending on survey type and complexity of analysis
Preparation to disseminate, 2–3 months
A victim service provider is a public or private organization that provides assistance to victims of crime.
Victim services are any efforts to assist victims; to promote their safety, security, or recovery; to help them participate in the criminal justice system; or to meet other victim needs.
NIBRS stands for National Incident-Based Reporting System.