National Prisoner Statistics, [United States], 1978-2018

Resource Type
Dataset : survey data
  • United States. Bureau of Justice Statistics
Other Title
  • NPS 1978-2018 (Alternative Title)
  • Archival Version (Subtitle)
Collective Title
  • National Prisoner Statistics (NPS) Series
Publication Date
Publication Place
Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research
Funding Reference
  • United States. Bureau of Justice Statistics
Free Keywords
Schema: ICPSR
correctional system; demographic characteristics; HIV; offenders; parole; prison inmates; state correctional facilities
  • Abstract

    The National Prisoner Statistics (NPS) data collection began in 1926 in response to a congressional mandate to gather information on persons incarcerated in state and federal prisons. Originally under the auspices of the United States Census Bureau, the collection moved to the Bureau of Prisons in 1950, and then in 1971 to the National Criminal Justice Information and Statistics Service, the precursor to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) which was established in 1979. Since 1979, the Census Bureau has been the NPS data collection agent. The NPS is administered to 51 respondents. Before 2001, the District of Columbia was also a respondent, but responsibility for housing the District of Columbia's sentenced prisoners was transferred to the federal Bureau of Prisons, and by yearend 2001 the District of Columbia no longer operated a prison system. The NPS provides an enumeration of persons in state and federal prisons and collects data on key characteristics of the nation's prison population. NPS has been adapted over time to keep pace with the changing information needs of the public, researchers, and federal, state, and local governments.
  • Methods

    The NPS-1 is an annual collection known as the "Summary of Sentenced Population Movement." Before 1978, the collection tracked admissions and releases by type and sex during each calendar year, as well as the number of prisoners in custody by sex and sentence length on December 31. In 1978, NPS-1 was expanded to include the number of prisoners under the jurisdiction of state and federal adult correctional officials, the number of inmates held in local jails solely to ease overcrowding in prisons, and the race and Hispanic origin by sex of the jurisdiction population at yearend. In 1991, NPS-1 was further expanded to include questions on the number of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections and confirmed acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) cases in the custody population. In 1999, the NPS-1 was expanded again to collect data on inmates housed in local facilities without reference to prison overcrowding, inmates held in other state or federal facilities, and inmates held in privately operated facilities. In addition, the race and Hispanic origin questions were combined into a single item to better comport with administrative recordkeeping systems maintained by state departments of correction (DOCs). Finally, the survey began collecting more detailed counts of inmate deaths by cause. The NPS-1A was introduced in 1981 to track the rapidly growing prison population. It included counts of the number of inmates under jurisdiction and in custody of prisons, by sentence length and sex, on June 30 of each year. This collection was eliminated in 2010 to reduce burden on data respondents. The NPS-1B was added to provide advance counts of the December 31 (yearend) populations and to obtain data by sex, race, and sentence length. It was expanded in 1982 to include counts of inmates housed in local jails because of prison overcrowding, and again in 1983 to provide measures of housing capacity and numbers of early releases due to prison overcrowding. NPS-1 and NPS-1B were merged in 2007 under the title NPS-1B "Summary of Sentenced Population Movement." This single collection captures counts by sex of yearend jurisdiction and custody populations by sentence length; number of prisoners held in local, federal, private, and other state facilities; the race and ethnicity of inmates; types of admissions and releases during the calendar year; prison system capacity; and HIV infections and confirmed cases of AIDS. In 2011, two items were added from the former NPS-1A collection, including the yearend custody counts of noncitizens and inmates age 17 or younger.
  • 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: Created variable labels and/or value labels.; Standardized missing values.; Performed recodes and/or calculated derived variables.; Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes..
  • Abstract


    • DS1: Dataset
Temporal Coverage
  • Time period: 1978--2018
  • 1978 / 2018
  • Collection date: 1978--2018
  • 1978 / 2018
Geographic Coverage
  • United States
Sampled Universe
Prisoners under jurisdiction of federal or state correctional authorities in the United States from 1978 to 2018. Smallest Geographic Unit: state
Collection Mode
  • mail questionnaire
  • web-based survey
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
  • 37639 (Type: ICPSR Study Number)
  • Is previous version of
    DOI: 10.3886/ICPSR37639.v1

Update Metadata: 2020-07-23 | Issue Number: 1 | Registration Date: 2020-07-23