The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) maintains two annual data series, the Annual Probation Survey and the Annual Parole Survey, designed to provide national, federal, and jurisdiction-level data from administrative records of adults supervised in the community on probation or parole. Both data series also collect information on the characteristics of probationers and parolees.
BJS also maintains the annual data series the National Corrections Reporting Program, which is designed to provide data from—
- administrative records on annual prison admissions and releases and on parole entries and discharges in participating jurisdictions
- individual prisoner records on the characteristics and composition of the prison and parole populations.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics maintains the Annual Parole Survey, an annual data series designed to provide national, federal, and jurisdiction-level data from administrative records on adults supervised in the community on parole. Data include the total number of parolees supervised, by jurisdiction, on January 1 and December 31 of each year and the number of adults who entered and exited parole supervision during the year. Additional data include demographic characteristics, such as sex, race and Hispanic or Latino origin, and offense of parolees under supervision at the end of each year.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics maintains the Annual Probation Survey, an annual data series designed to provide national, federal, and jurisdiction-level data from administrative records on adults supervised in the community on probation. Data include the total number of probationers supervised, by jurisdiction, on January 1 and December 31 of each year and the number of adults who entered and exited probation supervision during the year. Additional data include demographic characteristics, such as sex, race and Hispanic or Latino origin, and offense of probationers under supervision at the end of each year.
See Substance Abuse and Treatment of Adults on Probation, 1995 (NCJ 166611)
See Mental Health and Treatment of Inmates and Probationers (NCJ 174463)
See Prior Abuse Reported by Inmates and Probationers (NCJ 172879)
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.
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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.
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