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NIJ Survey of Jail Administrators

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 1995
2 pages
Publication Series
As part of the 1994 National Assessment Program conducted by the National Institute of Justice, questionnaires were sent to 3,300 criminal justice professionals in 13 types of agencies in 411 counties nationwide to assess workload problems and initiatives of jail administrators.
The survey included 211 counties with populations greater than 250,000 were surveyed and a random sample of 200 counties with populations between 50,000 and 250,000. Responses were received between October 1993 and February 1994 from 2,585 persons, for a response rate of 69 percent. Survey findings showed 35 percent of jail administrators reported crowded conditions with jails operating at more than 110 percent of capacity. In contrast, in the previous 1990 survey, 52 percent said jails were crowded. This reduction in jail crowding was due to the more than doubling of budgets for jail construction between 1987 and 1992. Jail administrators said primary factors contributing to crowding were the large number of arrests for drug offenses and violent crime, longer jail sentences, and probation violations. Another contributing factor was the number of convicted felons serving their entire sentence in jail instead of in prison where they would normally have been confined. As a result of crowded conditions, some jail administrators were concerned they would have to prematurely release inmates into the community. Jail administrators also commented that effective classification required identifying gang members but doing so was sometimes difficult. As alternative sanctions, about 70 percent of jail administrators had an electronic monitoring program but said the program needed improvement. Day reporting was used by 40 percent of jail administrators. Jail administrators recommended alternative sanctions and inmate classification as key topics for further research and evaluation.

Date Published: May 1, 1995