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Informing America’s Policy on Illegal Drugs: What We Don’t Know Keeps Hurting Us
population, and their HIV status. In addition to the semiannual prisoner counts, BJS also conducts a periodic Census of State and Federal Prisons every five years. This prison facility census provides the sampling frame for the two nationwide inmate surveys described below:
The Survey of Inmates in State Correctional Facilities, conducted every five years, provides information on individual characteristics of prison inmates (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1993). In addition to standard elements such as current offenses and sentences, criminal histories, family background, and education level, data are collected on previous drug and alcohol abuse and on exposure to treatment and other in-prison services. Data for this survey are collected through personal interviews with a nationally representative sample of 14,000 inmates in about 300 state prisons and exist for the years 1974, 1979, 1986, 1991, and 1997.
The Survey of Inmates in Federal Correctional Facilities, first conducted in 1991 and again in 1997, collects data on the same variables used in the Survey of Inmates in State Correctional Facilities (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1997b). These are also self-report data, elicited through personal interviews with a probability-based sample of 4,041 federal inmates. Based on the completed interviews, estimates for the entire correctional population are developed.
Data from the combined inmate surveys are reported as the Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities. The interview completion rate exceeds 90 percent for both the federal and state surveys.
The Census of Jails, conducted every five years, furnishes the sampling frame for the nationwide Survey of Inmates in Local Jails (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1995). Similar to the Census of State and Federal Prisons described above, these data provide detailed information on each facility, including admissions and releases, court orders, programs that offer alternatives to incarceration, use of space and crowding, staffing, and health care (including prevalence of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis). The Census of Jails also provides information on drug testing policies and practices. Data exist for the years 1970, 1972, 1978, 1983, 1988, 1993, and 1999.
The Annual Survey of Jails collects intercensal estimates of the number of inmates in the nation’s local jails and data on the relationship between jail populations and capacities. These data have been collected annually since 1982, except in the years when the complete Census of Jails, described above, was conducted.
The Survey of Inmates in Local Jails is periodically administered to collect data on the family background and personal characteristics of jail