Corrections refers to the supervision of persons arrested for, convicted of, or sentenced for criminal offenses. Correctional populations fall into two general categories: institutional corrections and community corrections. Corrections data, with a few exceptions, covers adult agencies or facilities and adult offenders.
BJS maintains over 30 corrections-related data collections. Most are annual collections of administrative data from correctional administrators, ranging from basic population counts and offender demographic characteristics to facility capacity, programs, staff, and resources. These data collections include—
- National Prisoner Statistics (NPS) program - administrative data on state and federal prisoners, collected twice a year
- Annual Survey of Jails (ASJ) - administrative data on jail populations
- Annual Probation Survey and Annual Parole Survey - administrative data on offenders under community supervision
- National Corrections Reporting Program (NCRP) - administrative data on admissions to and releases from state prisons, collected annually from participating state jurisdictions
- Census of Jails and Census of State and Federal Adult Correctional Facilities - administrative data on facilities and staff, collected periodically.
The NPS also collects counts on specific inmate populations from the Department of Defense (DoD) and the U.S. territories. Some limited information on the number of juveniles held in adult facilities is also collected in the NPS and the ASJ. Jails in Indian Country is a separate collection for data on counts and characteristics of persons held in tribal jails. BJS also tracks administrative data on other topics, such as HIV in correctional facilities; deaths in custody; sexual assault in correctional facilities; and capital punishment statutes, populations, and executions.
In addition to collecting administrative data, BJS maintains a number of recurring national surveys of prison and jail inmates. These surveys are conducted periodically and use a nationally representative sample of inmates. The surveys, Survey of Prison Inmates (formerly known as the Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities) and the Survey of Inmates in Local Jails, are broad in scope and collect a wide range of data on the personal and criminal histories of criminal offenders. Topics cover childhood experiences, family structure, educational background, prior criminal activity, substance abuse experiences, mental and physical health problems, and conditions of current confinement. Estimates derived from these surveys are national and, with rare exceptions, are not available at the state or facility level.
In 2020, 17 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.
Compared to jail facilities, prisons are longer-term facilities owned by a state or by the federal government. Prisons typically hold felons and persons with sentences of more than 1 year. However, sentence length may vary by state. Six states (i.e., Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Delaware, Alaska, and Hawaii) have an integrated correctional system that combines jails and prisons. There are a small number of private prisons, facilities that are run by private prison corporations whose services and beds are contracted out by state or federal governments. See the Terms & Definitions section.
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.