When national estimates are derived from a sample, as with the NCVS, caution must be used when comparing one estimate to another estimate or when comparing estimates over time. Although one estimate may be larger than another, estimates based on a sample have some degree of sampling error. The sampling error of an estimate depends on several factors, including the amount of variation in the responses and the size of the sample. When the sampling error around an estimate is taken into account, the estimates that appear different may not be statistically different.
One measure of the sampling error associated with an estimate is the standard error. The standard error can vary from one estimate to the next. Generally, an estimate with a small standard error provides a more reliable approximation of the true value than an estimate with a large standard error. Estimates with relatively large standard errors are associated with less precision and reliability and should be interpreted with caution.
Data users can use the estimates and the standard errors of the estimates provided in NCVS reports to generate a confidence interval around the estimate as a measure of the margin of error. A confidence interval around the estimate can be generated by multiplying the standard errors by ±1.96 (the t-score of a normal, two-tailed distribution that excludes 2.5% at either end of the distribution). Therefore, the 95% confidence interval around an estimate is the estimate ± (the standard error X 1.96). In others words, if different samples using the same procedures were taken from the U.S. population, 95% of the time the estimate would fall within that confidence interval. See the NCVS Methodology for an example.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) Law Enforcement and Management Administrative Statistics (LEMAS) 2003 survey, local police departments operated about 243,000 cars, or 52 cars per 100 officers. Sheriffs’ offices operated 118,000 cars, or 66 per 100 officers; and the 49 primary state law enforcement agencies operated 49,000 cars, or 85 per 100 officers.
The largest number of federal officers performed criminal investigation and law enforcement duties (38%). The next largest category was police response and patrol (21%), followed by corrections and detention (16%), inspections related to immigration or customs laws (16%), court operations (5%), and security and protection (4%).
The NCVS is designed to measure crime on a yearly basis. Criminologists have many theories about what causes crime rates to go up or down. There is no consensus among criminologists or others about the causes of crime or changes in crime rates. You may wish to read some of the literature in the criminology field to obtain more information about differing ideas on this topic.
The NCVS measures violent and property crime experienced by victims in the United States. This includes—
- Violent crimes of rape or sexual assault, robbery, aggravated or simple assault.
- Personal theft.
- Property crimes of household burglary, motor vehicle theft, and theft.
- Routine supplements address: identity theft, stalking, and contacts between the police and the public.
No, kidnapping is not a crime that is covered by the NCVS.
On average, local police officers were required to complete about 1,100 hours of training compared to about 1,000 hours for campus police. Campus police departments (30%) were more likely to have a college requirement for new officers than local police (20%). Campus police departments were also more likely than local police departments to assess recruits’ community relations skills prior to hiring. Community relations skills included problem-solving skills (campus police 58%, local police 37%), understanding cultural diversity (campus police 57%, local police 16%), and conflict management (campus police 42%, local police 11%).
Campus law enforcement agencies performed functions related to special events security, dispatching calls for services, traffic enforcement, property crime investigation, building lockup, parking enforcement, and violent crime investigation. Functions performed by a majority of agencies serving the smallest campuses, but not the majority of agencies serving the largest campuses, included parking administration, vehicle registration, key control, and fire prevention education.
The reports located on BJS website are the most recent versions. Some reports are updated occasionally. We are working on procedures which we hope will make it possible to update more of our data more frequently. We are also working on new methods of presenting our data online so that it will be possible for individuals to get more recent information on specific variables of interest.
According to the 2004-05 BJS Survey of Campus Law Enforcement Agencies, 74% of colleges and universities with 2,500 or more students used sworn officers. Nearly all public campuses (93%) used sworn officers and 86% had armed patrol officers. Less than half of private campuses (42%) had sworn police forces, and 30% had armed patrol officers. The majority of the private campuses with 10,000 or more students had sworn, armed police forces.
The Identity Theft Supplement (ITS) is a supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). It was administered in 2008, 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018 and captures person level information on identity theft against persons age 16 or older.
According to the 2016 BJS Law Enforcement and Management Administrative Statistics (LEMAS) survey, about 9 in 10 local police departments authorized their patrol officers to carry pepper spray (91% of agencies) and a baton (89% of agencies). An estimated 88% of departments authorized the use of conducted energy devices (CED) weapons such as Tasers or stun guns.
The largest employers of federal officers were U.S. customs and Border Protection (CBP) (27,705), Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) (15,214), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) (12,242), and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) (10,399). Ten other agencies employed at least 1,000 officers.
The Brady Act recognizes the need to automate state record systems that contribute most of the relevant information to the FBI record system, which would be checked by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The Brady Act established the National Criminal History Improvement Program (NCHIP)—a program of grants to be used by the states to create or improve computerized criminal history record systems—to 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 (BJS). At the state level, NCHIP grants are administered to state agencies designated by the Governor. Since 1995 NCHIP has provided over $500 million in grants to states to improve the automation of 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.
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.
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.
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.
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/)
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.
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 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.
No. The collection does not exclude deaths based on a lack of establishing physical custody. For example, it includes officer-involved shootings, of which virtually none involved subjects who were in the physical custody of the arresting agency at the time of death. Some arrest-related suicides occurred in police lockups and booking facilities, and most occurred before law enforcement personnel apprehended arrest subjects and established physical custody.
Yes. The ARD collection includes all deaths that result from any use of force by law enforcement officers, regardless of whether the officer intended the use of force to be lethal. To resolve an incident, law enforcement officers are authorized to use force in an escalating series of actions. The amount of force used ranges from the mere presence of an officer to the use of lethal force.
Most law enforcement agencies have policies that guide the appropriate level of force for a given situation. Law enforcement personnel are trained to only use lethal force when an arrest subject poses a serious threat to the officer or another individual and an arrest would be imminent. The threshold of criminal behavior to prompt an arrest is far lower than the threshold to prompt the use of lethal force.