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Informing America’s Policy on Illegal Drugs: What We Don’t Know Keeps Hurting Us
inmates. It includes detailed data on past drug and alcohol use and history of contact with the criminal justice system. The survey relies on personal interviews with a nationally representative sample of about 6,100 jail inmates. Data are available from this series for years 1972, 1978, 1983, 1989, and 1996.
The National Survey of Adults on Probation was conducted for the first time in 1995 (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1997c). The survey collected data from a nationally representative sample of 5,867 administrative records and conducted follow-up interviews with offenders. The administrative records provide detailed information on current offenses and sentences, criminal histories, levels of supervision and contacts, participation in treatment programs, and disciplinary hearings and outcomes. The offender interviews provide the same information on offender characteristics and drug involvement as that furnished by the jail and prison surveys described above.
The questionnaires for all three inmate surveys and the probation survey include lifetime prevalence for illegal drug use, drug use at the time of the crime (current offense) for which the inmate is currently sentenced, and past-year and past-month prevalence at the time of the current offense. Data also are collected on frequency of drug use prior to both the current offense itself and the arrest for the current offense.
BJS also biennially collects data on courts and sentencing for both federal and state courts. These collections contain detailed information on the demographic characteristics of felons, conviction offenses, type of sentences, sentence lengths, and time from arrest to conviction and sentencing.
The National Judicial Reporting Program surveys a nationwide sample of felony trial courts in 344 counties (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1996b, 1999a).
State Court Processing Statistics are data on the processing of felony defendants in a representative sample of state courts in the nation’s 75 most populous counties, which account for about half the serious crimes nationwide.
The Federal Justice Statistics Program collects information associated with federal criminal cases.
All of the court-related data series collect information on drug felonies, which are divided into two broad offense categories—drug trafficking and other drug offenses. Drug trafficking is defined as trafficking, sales, distribution, possession with intent to distribute or sell, manufacturing, and smuggling of controlled substances. The category Other drug