National Archive of Criminal Justice Data

This dataset is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), the criminal justice archive within ICPSR. NACJD is primarily sponsored by three agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice: the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Measuring Crime Rates of Prisoners in Colorado, 1988-1989 (ICPSR 9989) RSS

Principal Investigator(s):

Summary:

In the late 1970s, the Rand Corporation pioneered a method of collecting crime rate statistics. They obtained reports of offending behavior--types and frequencies of crimes committed--directly from offenders serving prison sentences. The current study extends this research by exploring the extent to which variation in the methodological approach affects prisoners' self-reports of criminal activity. If the crime rates reported in this survey remained constant across methods, perhaps one of the new techniques developed would be easier and/or less expensive to administer. Also, the self-reported offending rate data for female offenders in this collection represents the first time such data has been collected for females. Male and female prisoners recently admitted to the Diagnostic Unit of the Colorado Department of Corrections were selected for participation in the study. Prisoners were given one of two different survey instruments, referred to as the long form and short form. Both questionnaires dealt with the number of times respondents committed each of eight types of crimes during a 12-month measurement period. The crimes of interest were burglary, robbery, assault, theft, auto theft, forgery/credit card and check-writing crimes, fraud, and drug dealing. The long form of the instrument focused on juvenile and adult criminal activity and covered the offender's childhood and family. It also contained questions about the offender's rap sheet as one of the bases for validating the self-reported data. The crime count sections of the long form contained questions about motivation, initiative, whether the offender usually acted alone or with others, and if the crimes recorded included crimes against people he or she knew. Long-form data are given in Part 1. The short form of the survey had fewer or no questions compared with the long form on areas such as the respondent's rap sheet, the number of crimes committed as a juvenile, the number of times the respondent was on probation or parole, the respondent's childhood experiences, and the respondent's perception of his criminal career. These data are contained in Part 2. In addition, the surveys were administered under different conditions of confidentiality. Prisoners given what were called "confidential" interviews had their names identified with the survey. Those interviewed under conditions of anonymity did not have their names associated with the survey. The short forms were all administered anonymously, while the long forms were either anonymous or confidential. In addition to the surveys, data were collected from official records, which are presented in Part 3. The official record data collection form was designed to collect detailed criminal history information, particularly during the measurement period identified in the questionnaires, plus a number of demographic and drug-use items. This information, when compared with the self-reported offense data from the measurement period in both the short and long forms, allows a validity analysis to be performed.

Access Notes

  • One or more data files in this study are set up in a non-standard format, such as card image format. Users may need help converting these files before they can be used for analysis.

  • These data are freely available.

Dataset(s)

DS1:  Long Form Survey Data - Download All Files (2.6 MB)
Documentation:
Data:
DS2:  Short Form Survey Data - Download All Files (1 MB)
Documentation:
Data:
DS3:  Official Records Data - Download All Files (4.2 MB)
DS4:  User Guide
Documentation:
Download:
No downloadable data files available.
DS5:  SAS Data Definition Statements for Long Form Survey Data
Documentation:
Download:
No downloadable data files available.
DS6:  SAS Data Definition Statements for Short Form Survey Data
Documentation:
Download:
No downloadable data files available.
DS7:  SAS Data Definition Statements for Official Records Data
Documentation:
Download:
No downloadable data files available.

Study Description

Citation

English, Kim, and Mary J. Mande. Measuring Crime Rates of Prisoners in Colorado, 1988-1989. ICPSR09989-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1996. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR09989.v1

Persistent URL:

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Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (87-IJ-CX-0048)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   assault, auto theft, burglary, crime rates, crime statistics, criminal histories, drug traffic, female offenders, fraud, robbery

Geographic Coverage:   Colorado, United States

Time Period:  

  • 1988-07--1989-12

Date of Collection:  

  • 1988-07--1989-12

Unit of Observation:   Individuals.

Universe:   Prisoners admitted to the Diagnostic Unit of the Colorado Prison System from July 1988 to December 1989.

Data Types:   administrative records data, survey data

Methodology

Study Purpose:   In the late 1970s, the Rand Corporation pioneered a method of collecting crime rate statistics. They obtained reports of offending behavior--types and frequencies of crimes committed--directly from offenders serving prison sentences. The current study extends this research by exploring the extent to which variation in the methodological approach affects prisoners' self-reports of criminal activity. Currently, collecting data from prisoners is a costly, labor-intensive effort. If the crime rates reported in this survey remained constant across methods, perhaps one of the new techniques developed would be easier and/or less expensive to administer. Also, the self-reported offending rate data for female offenders in this collection represents the first time such data has been collected for females.

Study Design:   Prisoners recently admitted to the Diagnostic Unit of the Colorado Department of Corrections were selected for participation in the study. Prisoners were given one of two different survey instruments, referred to as the long form and short form. The long form of the survey was a 65-page self-administered survey instrument, while the short form consisted of 45 pages. Both the long and short surveys contained questions on the prisoners' involvement in crime during a 12-month measurement period. This "window period" was defined as the month of arrest and the previous 11 months. An individual's "street months" were defined as the 12-month measurement period minus months incarcerated or hospitalized. Street months were used in calculating an individual's rate of offending. All surveys were administered under conditions of confidentiality, but the extent of confidentiality differed. Prisoners given what were called "confidential" interviews had their names identified with the survey. Those interviewed under conditions of anonymity did not have their names associated with the survey. The short forms were all administered anonymously, while the long forms were either anonymous or confidential. Survey data were collected one evening a week for 16 months. It took respondents between 30 and 90 minutes to complete the long version of the instrument, and it took 20 to 45 minutes to complete the shorter version. In addition to the surveys, data were collected from official records. The official records data collection form was designed to collect detailed criminal history information, particularly during the measurement period identified in the questionnaire, plus a number of demographic and drug-use items that could be used for criterion validity analysis.

Sample:   The researchers used a convenience sample of inmates recently admitted to the Diagnostic Unit of the Colorado Department of Corrections.

Data Source:

self-enumerated questionnaires and official criminal records

Description of Variables:   The survey instruments obtained information about the number of times respondents committed each of eight types of crimes during the measurement period. The crimes of interest were burglary, robbery, assault, theft, auto theft, forgery/credit card and check-writing crimes, fraud, and drug dealing. The long form questionnaire focused on juvenile and adult criminal activity and covered the offender's childhood and family. It also contained questions about the offender's rap sheet as one of the bases for validating the self-reported data. The crime count sections of the long form contained questions about motivation, initiative, whether the offender usually acted alone or with others, and if the crimes recorded included crimes against people he or she knew. The short form had fewer or no questions compared with the long form on areas such as the respondent's rap sheet, the number of crimes committed as a juvenile, the number of times the respondent was on probation or parole, the respondent's childhood experiences, and the respondent's perception of his criminal career. Official records data include information on arrests, convictions, and sentences prior to the current arrest as well as specific items from the Colorado Actuarial Risk Scale. Demographic information was collected in both survey instruments and from the official records.

Response Rates:   The mean participation rate in the survey was approximately 90 percent of inmates who met with the researchers to hear an explanation of the study. However, the number of inmates who refused to participate by not leaving their cells is not known, but is estimated to be less than 10 percent. The high participation rate is attributed to the fact that inmates had little else to do. While in the Diagnostic Unit, they were locked down 23 hours a day.

Presence of Common Scales:   Colorado Actuarial Risk Scale.

Extent of Processing:  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.
  • Performed recodes and/or calculated derived variables.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

Version(s)

Original ICPSR Release:  

Version History:

  • 2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions.

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