The National Prison Rape Statistics Program (NPRSP), developed upon passage of the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003, entails the collection of both administrative and self-report data on sexual violence from State and Federal prisons, locally operated jails, and public and private facilities for juvenile offenders in the nation. The National Inmate Survey (NIS) is one of the data collections developed under the NPRSP. The NIS is designed to estimate the incidence of sexual victimization in prisons and jails, to generate facility- and state-level rates of sexual victimization, and to support the ranking of facilities to determine which facilities in the U.S. have the highest and lowest rates of sexual victimization.
The NIS has been conducted three times previously, in 2007, 2008-09 and again in 2011-12. During those surveys, BJS collected data from respondents using an audio computer-assisted self-interview (ACASI), wherein the respondents heard questions and instructions via headphones and entered their responses using a touch screen computer. The fourth iteration of the NIS in adult prisons (NIS-4P) was awarded in FY2017 to RTI International, intended to provide data on how the rate of sexual victimization in prisons has changed over time and to expand and improve information on the experiences of sexual violence victims in prisons. NIS-4P will build on the past surveys by obtaining more details on specific incidents. During 2016, BJS undertook a comprehensive assessment to examine the substantive gaps in the NIS-3 sexual assault questionnaires, and BJS intends to obtain more details on specific incidents in the NIS-4. NIS-4 will include new measures with special emphasis on the nature and circumstances surrounding staff sexual misconduct and boundary violations, collusion among prison inmates and staff surrounding victimization, impact on victims, and other factors related to facility climate, institutional culture, and correctional leadership. In addition, BJS intends to improve the measurement of facility characteristics that may co-vary with sexual victimization. This assessment also included a review of the NIS-3 survey protocol, sampling methodologies, and analytical products to develop an optimal design to provide reliable facility-level estimates for prisons. The NIS-4P will incorporate the recommendations from this critical assessment for achieving greater efficiency and cost savings for this round of data collection and to ensure that the survey will maximize data quality and minimize burden on sampled facilities. Supplemental funding under this award will offset cost increases due to the COVID-19 pandemic.