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Methodology: Survey of Prison Inmates, 2016

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2019
10 pages
Lauren Glaze
This report describes the methodology used by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) for the 2016 Survey of Prison Inmates (SPI), which collected statistics for all male and female prisoners age 18 or older who were held in a state prison or were serving a sentence in a federal prison.
The SPI provides national statistics on prisoner characteristics across a variety of domains, such as current offense and sentence, incident characteristics, firearm possession and sources, criminal history, demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, family background, drug and alcohol use and treatment, mental and physical health and treatment, and facility programs and rules violations. The SPI can also be used to track changes in these characteristics over time, describe special populations of prisoners, and identify policy-relevant changes in the state and federal prison populations. From January through October 2016, data were collected through face-to-face interviews with prisoners, using computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI). In a CAPI interview, interviewers read questions aloud and enter responses directly into a laptop computer, allowing skip patterns and other routing criteria to be implemented automatically. SPI interviews averaged approximately 50 minutes, including about 2 minutes for the consent process and 48 minutes to complete the survey. Interviews were conducted in English (94 percent;) and Spanish (6 percent). This report describes the SPI's universe, sample design and selection, selection of prisoners, sample size and response rate, consent, analysis for non-response bias, and weighting and non-response adjustments. 4 tables and terms and definitions

Date Created: July 18, 2019