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Assessing the Accuracy of State Prisoner Statistics

NCJ Number
Patrick A Langan Ph.D.; David J. Levin
Date Published
February 1999
6 pages
This document reports on a wide array of statistics routinely compiled and disseminated by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) that describe persons sentenced to State prisons during the year.
Prisoner characteristics are available in two different sources: State prison records and State court records. This report investigates the extent to which prisoner characteristics from one source match those from the other. Results of the investigation indicate a close correspondence between court and prison records for State prisoners for 1992. The findings were similar for conviction offenses, prisoner gender, prisoner race, and average age; findings differed somewhat for sentence length and the total number of persons sent to prison. Nearly all of the difference in the numbers of persons sent to prison resulted from 13 States' not being included in the data compiled from prison records. Tables and discussion of methodology