As with any specialized field, criminal justice has specific terms to convey specific ideas. Persons under correctional supervision are those on probation or parole or held in prison or jail. This definition casts the widest net when seeking the number under some sort of correctional surveillance.
Persons incarcerated include those in state or federal prisons or local jails. This is the population most often cited when asked how many people in the United States are behind lock and key. BJS publishes an imprisonment rate for the number of prisoners under state or federal jurisdiction sentenced to more than 1 year in prison per 100,000 U.S. residents. The incarceration rate is the number per 100,000 U.S. residents of inmates held in the custody of local jails, state or federal prisons, or privately operated facilities. (More information about jurisdiction and custody counts can be found here.)
BJS also has a total incarceration count that includes those held in state and federal prisons, local jails, Indian country jails, U.S territory facilities, military facilities, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities, and juvenile facilities.
Links to most recent publication:
Of the estimated 1,079,000 felons convicted in state courts in 2004, the vast majority (95%) of those sentenced for a felony pleaded guilty. The remaining 5% were found guilty either by a jury (2%) or by a judge in a bench trial (3%). See Felony Sentences in State Courts, 2004.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) does not have conviction and sentencing information by state. Court statistics for individual states may be available by going to the state court website for a particular state. See the National Center for State Courts site for links to state court websites.
BJS does collect national-level statistics on race for criminal sentencing in state and federal courts:
A. State court sentencing statistics:
- BJS compiles and publishes national statistics every two years on adults convicted of felonies in state courts. The statistics include information on the race or Hispanic origin, sex, and age of the person convicted. Demographic statistics of convicted felons can be found in two BJS publicationsFelony Sentences in State Courts and State Court Sentencing of Convicted Felons.
- Statistical table 2.1 of Felony Sentences in State Courts, 2004, indicates that, of the nearly 1,079,000 adults convicted of a felony in 2004 in state courts nationwide, 59% were white, 38% were black, and 38% were persons identified as American Indians or Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander.
- State Court Sentencing of Convicted Felons, 2004 Statistical Tables, provides more demographic statistics on felony sentence types and sentence lengths. Table 2.7 provides the average sentence lengths received among persons convicted of a felony in 2004, broken out by the race of the felon.
- Felony Defendants in Large Urban Counties, 2009Statistical Tables, provides criminal sentencing data in the nation's 75 largest counties. Individuals arrested and charged with a felony in state courts are sampled from 40 of the nation's 75 largest counties. Within those counties in 2009, 45% of felony defendants were non-Hispanic blacks, 30% were non-Hispanic whites, 24% were Hispanics or Latinos of any race, and 2% were non-Hispanic persons of some other race.
B. Federal Justice Statistics, 2009 Statistical Tables presents national level statistics describing all aspects of case processing in the federal criminal justice system, including adjudication in the U.S. district courts, sentencing, appeal of convictions and/or sentences imposed for the 12 month period ending September 30, 2009.
This is a question the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) frequently receives and unfortunately cannot completely answer. BJS publishes reports in the Felony Defendants in Large Urban Counties series every two to three years, providing the number of persons charged with a felony in a sample of the nation’s 75 most populous counties. In 2009, about 56,000 defendants were charged with a felony in those counties. See Felony Defendants in Large Urban Counties, 2009.
This is a question the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) frequently receives and, unfortunately, cannot completely answer. BJS can provide an estimate of the number of living persons in the United States who have ever been to state or federal prison. At yearend 2001, more than 5.6 million U.S. adult residents, or about 1 in 37 U.S. adults, had served time in state or federal prison. See Prevalence of Imprisonment in the U.S. Population, 1974-2001.
BJS publishes reports in the Felony Sentences in State Courts series every two years, providing the number of persons convicted of a felony in state courts in a particular year.
FOR STATES: The NICS Improvement Act has provisions that require 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 Record Improvement Program's (NCHIP) state matching requirement, if a state provides at least 90 percent of its records identifying the specified prohibited persons.
-- Second, the Act authorizes grant programs 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 percent of the grants may be reserved for Indian tribal governments and judicial systems. For Fiscal Year 2009, $10 million has been appropriated.
-- Finally, the Act provides for discretionary and mandatory Byrne grant penalties for non-compliance with record completeness requirements: after 3 years, 3 percent may be withheld in the case of less than 50 percent completeness; after 5 years, 4 percent may be withheld in the case of less than 70 percent completeness; and after 10 years, 5 percent shall be withheld in the case of less than 90 percent 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 NICS Improvement Act creates an independent statutory obligation for federal agencies to report records identifying prohibited persons to the Attorney General. It also requires that 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 NICS Improvement Act, 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.
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; or
-- 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; and
-- 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. The term includes 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.
The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) served as the data collection agent for BJS. State-level drug court coordinators provided points of contact for each problem-solving court operating in their state. NCSC combined information from court websites, court-related organizations, news media, press releases, marketing efforts, and related associations to form a comprehensive list of 3,633 problem-solving courts in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Guam.
A court can operate more than one problem-solving court at a single location. In such cases, the Census of Problem-Solving Courts (CPSC) counted each problem-solving court separately. If multiple court locations participated in a single problem-solving court, they were counted as one problem-solving court. Data were collected online and via paper questionnaires. Courts provided information on court type, size, frequency of sessions, issues addressed, services used, participant eligibility requirements, point of entry, benefits to participants, other characteristics of their operations, and case outcomes.
The report includes juvenile and adults in some analyses, but the data included juvenile drug courts and juvenile mental health courts.
No. The total homicide count includes all types of intentional homicide and involuntary manslaughter as ruled by a medical examiner or other official medical investigation. The total includes homicides committed by inmates. It also includes homicides as a result of staff use of force, such as positional asphyxia, or suffocation caused by the position of the inmate's body, while the inmate is being removed from a cell. It includes legal-intervention homicides (e.g., an inmate is shot in the process of escape). The count also includes deaths caused by events prior to incarceration (e.g., an inmate was shot during an altercation on the street and dies from complications of the gunshot wound while incarcerated).
BJS began to collect mortality data from state prisons, local jails, and local and state law enforcement agencies in 2000 in response to the Congressional enactment of the Death in Custody Reporting Act (DICRA, P.L. 106-297). Through its Mortality in Institutional Corrections (MCI) collection, BJS obtained data on deaths that occurred in the custody of local jails from 2000 to 2019 and state prisons from 2001 to 2019. Deaths that occurred in the process of arrest by law enforcement agencies were collected from 2003 to 2009, and a redesigned methodology was tested in 2015 and 2016.
Federal agencies were not included in the 2000 DICRA law, but BJS collected summary statistics on persons who died in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) through 2014. After the reauthorization of DICRA in 2013 (P.L. 113-242), which included a requirement to collect data from federal agencies, BJS began obtaining individual-level death data from the BOP, as well as from other federal agencies with law enforcement responsibilities.
The 2013 DICRA reauthorization expanded the original 2000 law to include additional enforcement and compliance requirements for local and state law enforcement agencies, jails, and prisons. As a federal statistical agency and consistent with its authorizing legislation, BJS may only use the data it collects or maintains under its authority for statistical purposes, which excludes enforcement and compliance activities. Consequently, the Department of Justice (DOJ) determined that BJS's MCI collection did not meet the 2013 DICRA requirements. DOJ decided that it would be more appropriate for the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) to administer the program and collect mortality data for DOJ starting with quarter 1 (Q1) of fiscal year (FY) 2019 (October to December 2019). State departments of corrections (DOC), local jails, and law enforcement agencies will now report their death information on a quarterly basis to centralized state agencies, who will compile and submit this to BJA to comply with all applicable DICRA requirements. Federal agencies, including the BOP, will continue to report deaths that occur in their custody to BJS.
The Prisoners bulletin series provides state-level data on prisoners under the jurisdiction of state or federal correctional authorities. Also, see the State and Federal Prisoners, Corrections Statistical Analysis Tool (CSAT), and Federal Justice Statistics Resource Center (FJSRC) sections of the BJS website for further information and data.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics' (BJS) National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) is the nation's primary source of information on criminal victimization. Each year, data are obtained from a nationally representative sample of 90,000 households, comprising nearly 160,000 persons on the frequency, characteristics, and consequences of criminal victimization in the United States. The NCVS collects information on nonfatal personal crimes (rape or sexual assault, robbery, aggravated and simple assault, and personal larceny) and household property crimes (burglary, motor vehicle theft, and other theft) both reported and not reported to police. Survey respondents provide information about themselves (e.g., age, sex, race and Hispanic origin, marital status, education level, and income) and whether they experienced a victimization. For each victimization incident, the NCVS collects information about the offender (e.g., age, race and Hispanic origin, sex, and victim-offender relationship), characteristics of the crime (including time and place of occurrence, use of weapons, nature of injury, and economic consequences), whether the crime was reported to police, reasons the crime was or was not reported, and victim experiences with the criminal justice system.
Yes. The information is available in the Crime Against People with Disabilities series.
We have several reports that present statistics on race and crime. The most recent report on this topic, Race and Hispanic Origin of Victims and Offenders, 2012-15, presents estimates of violent victimization by the race and Hispanic origin of victims and offenders during the 4-year period from 2012 through 2015. We also have reports on racial groups and crime:
- Black Victims of Violent Crime
- Hispanic Victims of Violent Crime, 1993-2000 (also available in spanish) Víctimas Hispanas de Crímenes Violentos, 1993-2000
- American Indians and Crime: A BJS Statistical Profile, 1992-2002.
The NCVS does ask respondents the location of their victimizations and crimes that occur abroad can be included by the respondent. These data are included in the public use data files available on the website for the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research at the University of Michigan (https://www.icpsr.umich.edu/). However, we presently do not have a report that summarizes these data.
The most recent information we have available on identity theft can be found within the Victims of Identity Theft series.
The 2017 Supplemental Fraud Survey (SFS) is a supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). It is the first data collection of its kind and collects information from a nationally representative sample of persons age 18 or older on their experiences with personal financial fraud victimization.
Financial fraud is defined as acts that “intentionally and knowingly deceive the victim by misrepresenting, concealing, or omitting facts about promised goods, services, or other benefits and consequences that are nonexistent, unnecessary, never intended to be provided, or deliberately distorted for the purpose of monetary gain.” (See Stanford Center on Longevity. (2015). Framework for a taxonomy of fraud. https://longevity.stanford.edu/framework-for-a-taxonomy-of-fraud/)
About three-quarters (75%) of training academies had a minimum law enforcement experience requirement for full-time instructors. Among academies with a minimum experience requirement, the average was about 4 years. Overall, 34% of the academies required their full-time instructors to have an academic degree. Nearly all (98%) academies required their full-time instructors to be certified. Eighty percent of academies required full-time trainers to have a state-level certification, and 59% required certification as a subject-matter expert. A less common requirement was certification by the academy (32%).
About 6 in 7 recruits completed their basic training program and graduated from the academy.
The 2006 BJS Census of Law Enforcement Training Academies found that training programs for basic recruits lasted an average of 19 weeks, excluding field training. Topics with the most instruction time included firearms (a median of 60 hours), self-defense (51 hours), health and fitness (46 hours), patrol procedures (40 hours), investigations (40 hours), emergency vehicle operations (40 hours), criminal law (36 hours), and basic first aid (24 hours).
Caution must be used when using trend data, as definitions and reporting capabilities change over time. Some changes in definitions are due to BJS initiatives to improve counting (such as separating out state inmates held in private facilities or local jails), some may be driven by the Office of Management and Budget (such as changes in racial and ethnic definitions), and some may be noted by the reported jurisdiction (such as noncitizen inmate counts, including those who were foreign-born).
Whenever possible, BJS notes these differences and encourages users to check footnotes within tables and jurisdiction notes within reports to better understand why comparability can vary from state-to-state or year-to-year.
Note: When you see a sharp increase or decline in a year-to-year count, it is recommended to verify there was no change in definition or counting method.
Jails are locally operated short-term facilities that hold inmates awaiting trial or sentencing or both, and inmates sentenced to a term of less than one year, typically misdemeanants. Prisons are longer-term facilities run by the state or the federal government that typically holds felons and persons with sentences of more than one year. Definitions may vary by state.
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
Not all datasets are available for public use. We are actively working on mechanisms to make as many datasets as possible accessible to the public. Much of our data is archived at the University of Michigan’s National Archive of Criminal Justice Data. A lag period exists between the release of a report and the archiving of the data, as the dataset must be submitted to the archive with full documentation and may undergo disclosure review to protect the confidentiality of the respondents, when applicable.
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.
It takes about 2 years to process death data because core data collection runs the full calendar year (i.e., January 1 through December 31). BJS does not report partial or incomplete data. Once core data collection is completed at the end of the first quarter of the following calendar year, data quality activities begin, which include waiting for autopsy results, following up with respondents who have not submitted any data, and clarifying survey items. Data quality activities end in September and a data file is delivered sometime in the fall. Data analysis and report writing typically take an additional six months, depending on the report.
Until the reauthorization of the Death in Custody Reporting Act (P.L. 113-242) in 2014, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) only provided BJS with summary statistics on annual mortality by cause of death. Starting in 2015, the BOP has provided us with individual-level records on prisoners who die while in BOP- or privately-operated facilities. These data will be archived with the rest of the arrest-related and custody deaths collected from federal agencies at the National Archives of Criminal Justice Data in the near future.
The probation population decreased by 38,300 probationers during 2012, from 3,981,100 to 3,942,800. You can view data and links to recent publications concerning probation and the number of offenders on probation by visiting the Probation section of our site. Our annual Probation and Parole in the United States reports present the number of persons on probation (and parole) at yearend, by state, with percent changes in each state during the year.
Females made up 14% of full-time sworn officers employed by sheriffs' offices in 2016. As of June 30, 2016, .9% of sheriffs were female, including about 11% of sheriffs in offices of 500 or more full-time-equivalent sworn officers. Among all sheriffs' offices, females held about 12% of first-line supervisory positions in 2016.
One difference between a sheriffs' office and police department is the jurisdiction that each type of agency covers. While both sheriffs' offices and police departments are law enforcement agencies, sheriffs' offices have countywide jurisdiction and police departments' authority is limited to specific cities, municipalities, towns, or villages. In addition, sheriffs' offices are generally empowered by the state to serve counties and independent cities, while police departments are established under municipal regulations. The head of a sheriffs' office is a sheriff who is usually an elected official. The head of a police department is usually the chief, who is typically appointed by a government entity, such as mayor, city manager, or a commissioner.
The report does not evaluate the success of problem-solving courts. The survey collected data on successful completion of problem-solving court programs. The survey did not collect data on whether graduates reentered the system or were rearrested.
The Census of Problem-Solving Courts (CPSC) identified problem-solving courts as having an exclusive docket, calendar, or program that operated within the judiciary. These courts had a dedicated judicial officer who used therapeutic justice to reduce problematic or criminal behavior. Therapeutic justice is a team-based, non-adversarial approach to criminal justice that offers therapeutic treatment services. It employs strategies to reward compliance and deter noncompliance. For example, the CPSC would include a truancy court with a specialized program following truant children and offering transportation or other services because this court addressed a problematic behavior using targeted services. A court that scheduled all truancy hearings on one day for scheduling purposes would not be included if it did not offer services to help reduce truancy. The CPSC excluded federal courts and problem-solving courts that operated with a youth judge or peer jury model. The collection excluded civil courts that had a contractual component (e.g., foreclosure or business courts) because they did not have a therapeutic component.
Homicide is the killing of a human being by another human being. The ARD program gathers data on homicides that occur during an arrest process regardless of whether the homicide was attributed to law enforcement personnel or a civilian.
Justifiable homicide is the killing by law enforcement personnel that is justified by law and for which no criminal punishment is imposed. These deaths occur as a result of officers performing their legal duty to protect and serve the public and may result from actions taken in self-defense. Justifiable homicides by law enforcement officers include deaths attributed to shooting, asphyxia during restraint, injuries sustained during an altercation, and the use of technologies, such as chemical sprays and conducted energy devices.
Sometimes. Deaths resulting from vehicular accidents are within the scope of the ARD program if they specifically involve direct action taken by law enforcement officers against an arrest subject during the arrest process. These direct actions can include shooting at the subject, ramming the subject's vehicle, or otherwise forcing the vehicle off the road (i.e., roadblocks or spike strips).
A suicide, or the intentional killing of oneself, is considered arrest related if the deceased interacted with state or local law enforcement officers immediately prior to taking his or her life. The most common type of reported arrest-related suicide involves decedents engaged in armed standoffs with law enforcement personnel. Other arrest-related suicides include suspects who committed suicide to evade physical custody while law enforcement personnel attempted to apprehend them. The ARD collection excludes suicides of persons with issued arrest warrants if the suicide occurred before the police located the decedent.