Annual Survey of Jails, 2015

Resource Type
Dataset : survey data
  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Other Title
  • ASJ 2015 (Alternative Title)
  • Version 1 (Subtitle)
Collective Title
  • Annual Survey of Jails Data Series
Publication Date
Publication Place
Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research
Funding Reference
  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. Bureau of Justice Statistics
Free Keywords
Schema: ICPSR
correctional facilities; correctional system; demographic characteristics; jail inmates; jails; population characteristics; probation
  • Abstract

    The Annual Survey of Jails (ASJ) is the only data collection effort that provides an annual source of data on local jails and jail inmates. Data on the size of the jail population and selected inmate characteristics are obtained every five to six years from the Census of Jails. In each of the years between the complete censuses, a sample survey of jails is conducted to estimate baseline characteristics of the nation's jails and inmates housed in these jails. The 2015 Annual Survey of Jails is the 28th such survey in a series begun in 1982. The ASJ supplies data on characteristics of jails such as admissions and releases, growth in the number of jail facilities, changes in their rated capacities and level of occupancy, growth in the population supervised in the community, changes in methods of community supervision, and crowding issues. The ASJ also provides information on changes in the demographics of the jail population, supervision status of persons held, and a count of non-U.S. citizens in custody. The data presented in this study were collected in the Annual Survey of Jails, 2015. These data are used to track growth in the number of jails and the capacities nationally, changes in the demographics of the jail population and supervision status of persons held, the prevalence of crowding issues, and a count of non-U.S. citizens within the jail population. The data are intended for a variety of users, including Federal and State agencies, local officials in conjunction with jail administrators, researchers, planners, and the public. The reference date for the survey is December 31, 2015.
  • Methods

    Data were obtained by mailed questionnaires and web form reporting. The ASJ collection began in January of 2016, and ended in July of the same year. BJS has consistently maintained high survey and item response rates. In an effort to minimize respondent burden and maximize response, the data collection plan allows for the jail respondents to submit data by mailing their reply in a postage-paid envelope or by fax, in addition to the internet-based reporting system (which BJS implemented and redesigned in 2011). To maximize the accuracy of survey, at the direction of BJS, data collection staff conduct out-of-range analysis of critical items and use the results from this analysis to prioritize follow-up contacts. Follow-up telephone calls and emails to non respondents are used to encourage high response rates. These methods have proved effective in reaching a 97% response rate while minimizing missing data.
  • Methods

    ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection: Standardized missing values.; Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes..
  • Methods

    Response Rates: Item response rates ranged from 92% to 99%.
  • Abstract


    • DS1: Dataset
Temporal Coverage
  • Time period: 2015-01-01--2015-12-31
  • 2015-01-01 / 2015-12-31
  • Collection date: 2016-01--2016-07
  • 2016-01 / 2016-07
Geographic Coverage
  • United States
Sampled Universe
All sampled jail jurisdictions (i.e., counties, municipalities, boroughs, etc.) identified from the 2013 Census of Jail Inmates. Smallest Geographic Unit: city and county
In years between the complete census of local jails, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) conducts the Annual Survey of Jails (ASJ). ASJ uses a stratified probability sample of jail jurisdictions to estimate the number and characteristics of local inmates nationwide. The 2015 ASJ sample consisted of 876 jail jurisdictions, represented by 942 jail facilities (referred to as reporting units). This sample represents about 2,851 jail jurisdictions nationwide. Local jail jurisdictions include counties (parishes in Louisiana) or municipal governments that administer one or more local jails. The 2015 ASJ differs from the 2006-2012 ASJ's, as data after 2012 includes in the sample a probability of one all California jail jurisdictions in response to the two enacted laws -- AB 109 and AB 117 by the California State Legislature and governor -- to reduce the number of inmates housed in state prisons starting October 1, 2011. The inclusion of all California jail jurisdictions resulted in an additional 21 jail jurisdictions (for a total sample size of 891 jurisdictions). Since the enactment of the two laws in recent years, the California jail population has experienced changes in size that cannot be compared to the changes of any other state in the United States. For this reason, the California jail jurisdictions were put in separate strata so that they could represent only California jurisdictions. In the sampling design, the jail jurisdictions nationwide were grouped into 10 strata. The 10 strata were defined by the interaction of two variables: the jail jurisdiction average daily population (ADP) in 2005, and whether in 2005 the jurisdiction held at least one juvenile. For 8 of the 10 strata, a random sample of jail jurisdictions was selected. For the remaining two strata, all jurisdictions were included in the sample. One stratum consisted of all jails (70) that were operated jointly by two or more jurisdictions (referred to as multi-jurisdictional jails). The other stratum (referred to as certainty stratum consisted of all jail jurisdictions (267) that: held juvenile inmates at the time of the 2005 Census of Jail Inmates and had an average daily population (ADP) of 500 or more inmates during the 12 months ending June 30, 2005.; held only adult inmates and had an ADP of 750 or more.; Certainty jails jurisdiction in the survey received forms CJ-5D (Certainty Jurisdictions-Central data reporter) or CJ-5DA (Multi-Jurisdiction facilities and privately operated facilities in jurisdictions included with certainty in the Annual Survey of Jails). Randomly sampled jail jurisdictions received forms CJ-5 (County/City operated) or CJ-5A (Private Facilities operating for County/City jail jurisdictions). The same sampling design was adopted for the California jurisdictions.
Collection Mode
  • web-based survey
2018-12-05 The Principal Investigator provided an updated data file. There is now one additional facility included in the dataset (n=911) from the original release. The codebook has been updated to reflect the data from this revised file. Within the codebook Tables 1 and 2, and the respondent list have been updated too. Funding institution(s): United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. Bureau of Justice Statistics.
This version of the study is no longer available on the web. If you need to acquire this version of the data, you have to contact ICPSR User Support (
Alternative Identifiers
  • 36760 (Type: ICPSR Study Number)
  • Is previous version of
    DOI: 10.3886/ICPSR36760.v2
  • Kaeble, Danielle, Cowhig, Mary. Correctional Populations in the United States, 2016. NCJ 251211, Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics. 2018.
    • ID: (URL)
  • Zeng, Zhen. Jail Inmates in 2016. Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin.NCJ 251210, Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics. 2018.
    • ID: (URL)

Update Metadata: 2018-12-05 | Issue Number: 2 | Registration Date: 2017-07-19