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National Evaluation of the Violent Offender Incarceration/Truth-in-Sentencing Incentive Grant Program, 1996-1999 (ICPSR 3336) RSS

Principal Investigator(s):

Summary:

This study evaluated the Violent Offender Incarceration/Truth-in-Sentencing (VOI/TIS) incentive grant program enacted in 1994. The program provided grants to states to be used to increase the capacity of state correctional systems to confine serious and violent offenders. This national evaluation addressed four broad areas: (1) How had the federal government implemented the law? How much money had been made available and what were the criteria for disbursement? (2) How had the states reacted legislatively to the law? Did states adopt truth-in-sentencing or statutes having equivalent effect? (3) How had the state VOI/TIS money been spent and for what? How much did it increased prison capacities? (4) Did the law increase the number of admissions, length of sentences, and terms served for violent offenders? In addition to these four major areas, the study looked at related areas of interest, such as the impact of VOI/TIS and other "get tough" legislation on prosecutorial and judicial attitudes, policies, and practices. It also examined state spending on corrections, particularly for construction. The researchers collaborated with the American Correctional Association (ACA), the American Prosecutors Research Institute (APRI), and the Justice Management Institute (JMI) to conduct special surveys among state correctional officials, prosecutors, and judges. The ACA surveyed state departments of correction in the summer of 1998. States were asked to indicate the extent of changes in a number of prison operations and activities since 1996, when VOI/TIS funds became available. In the summer of 1999 the APRI surveyed prosecutors nationwide to ascertain their perceptions of the effects of "get tough" legislation (including TIS) on a number of dimensions. In the fall of 1999, the JMI surveyed judges nationwide on their impressions of the effectiveness of several "get tough" measures in their states, including VOI/TIS. In Part 1, American Correctional Association Survey Data, state correction departments were questioned on the amount of VOI/TIS funds spent by their state since 1996, number of beds added using VOI/TIS funds and in what types of facilities, how VOI/TIS funds were used to increase number of beds, average prison sentences in 1993 and 1998 for different types of offenses, average time actually served in 1993 and 1998 for those offenses, the effects of VOI/TIS on prison and jail admissions for different types of offenders, and its effects on the composition of the prison population, prison inmate activities and programs, prison staffing, and prison operations. In Part 2, American Prosecutors Research Institute Survey Data, prosecutors were questioned about what "get tough" policies their states had enacted, the efficacy of "get tough" policies in achieving their goals, whether these policies had unanticipated or negative consequences, expected results of these policies, the percentage of cases to which these policies applied, the extent to which these policies had helped accomplish their office's goals, the effects of "get tough" policies on budget and resources, sentences and time actually served, and the criminal justice process, the size of their jurisdiction, and the number of staff in their office. In Part 3, Justice Management Institute Survey Data, judges were questioned about whether their state had enacted "get tough" policies in the past ten years, what kinds of policies were adopted, their effect on the efficiency of case processing, the formal positions of the Judicial Council and Judges Association on the policies, whether the respondent or other judges had input into the policies, how likely "get tough" policies were to achieve certain goals, what results the respondent expected from the policies, the impact of the policies on the criminal justice process, years experience on the bench, the percentage of their caseload that involved criminal cases, whether they handled civil, family law/domestic relations, or juvenile cases, and the population of their jurisdiction.

Access Notes

  • These data are freely available.

Dataset(s)

DS0:  Study-Level Files
DS1:  American Correctional Association Survey Data - Download All Files (1.6 MB)
DS2:  American Prosecutors Research Institute Survey Data - Download All Files (1.4 MB)
DS3:  Justice Management Institute Survey Data - Download All Files (1.4 MB)

Study Description

Citation

Turner, Susan, Terry Fain, Peter W. Greenwood, Elsa Y. Chen, and James R. Chiesa. National Evaluation of the Violent Offender Incarceration/Truth-in-Sentencing Incentive Grant Program, 1996-1999. ICPSR03336-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2003. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR03336.v1

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Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (96-CE-VX-0006)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   correctional reform, criminal justice system, imprisonment, legislative impact, offenders sentencing, program evaluation, sentencing, sentencing guidelines, sentencing reforms, state correctional facilities

Geographic Coverage:   United States

Time Period:  

  • 1996--1999

Date of Collection:  

  • 1998--1999

Unit of Observation:   Part 1: State departments of correction. Part 2: Prosecutors. Part 3: Judges.

Universe:   Part 1: State departments of correction. Part 2: Prosecutors in the United States. Part 3: Judges in the United States.

Data Types:   survey data

Methodology

Study Purpose:   The Federal Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, as amended, provided for federal Violent Offender Incarceration and Truth-in-Sentencing (VOI/TIS) incentive grants to the states. These grants were to be used to increase the capacity of state correctional systems to confine serious and violent offenders. The Act, as amended, authorized over $10 billion in Subtitle A funds for the years 1995 to 2000. These funds were divided equally between two programs: Truth-in-Sentencing (TIS) Incentive Grants and Violent Offender Incarceration (VOI) Grants. States could receive funding through either or both of these programs. A state could apply for TIS grants by meeting one of two criteria: (1) it had implemented laws requiring convicted violent offenders to serve at least 85 percent of their sentence or resulting in such offenders serving on average 85 percent of their sentence, or (2) it had enacted a law providing that within three years of its grant application it would require convicted violent offenders to serve at least 85 percent of their sentence. For VOI funding a state needed only to give assurances that it had implemented or would implement policies ensuring that violent offenders served "a substantial portion" of their sentences, their punishment was "sufficiently severe," and the time served was "appropriately related" to the violent-offender status and sufficient to protect the public. Additional VOI funds were available for states that achieved increases in the percentage of convicted violent offenders that had been sentenced to prison, the average time they had served, or the average percentage of their sentence they had served. As part of the law, Congress required that the implementation and effectiveness of the VOI/TIS grant programs be evaluated. This study evaluated the programs at the national level by addressing four broad areas: (1) How had the federal government implemented the law? How much money had been made available and what were the criteria for disbursement? (2) How had the states reacted legislatively to the law? Did states adopt truth in sentencing or statutes having equivalent effect? (3) How had the state VOI/TIS money been spent and for what? How much did it increase prison capacities? (4) Did the law increase the number of admissions, length of sentences, and terms served for violent offenders? In addition to these four major areas, the study looked at related areas of interest, such as the impact of VOI/TIS and other "get tough" legislation on prosecutorial and judicial attitudes, policies, and practices. It also examined state spending on corrections, particularly for construction.

Study Design:   The researchers collaborated with the American Correctional Association (ACA), the American Prosecutors Research Institute (APRI), and the Justice Management Institute (JMI) to conduct special surveys among state correctional officials, prosecutors, and judges. The ACA surveyed state departments of correction in the summer of 1998. States were asked to indicate the extent of changes in a number of prison operations and activities since 1996, when VOI/TIS funds became available, including the types of offenders in prison, inmate activities and programs, prison staffing, and effects on operations. In the summer of 1999 the APRI surveyed prosecutors nationwide to ascertain their perceptions of the effects of "get tough" legislation (including TIS) on a number of dimensions. In the fall of 1999 the JMI surveyed judges nationwide. The questionnaire asked their impressions of the effectiveness of several "get tough" measures in their states, including TIS, VOI, three-strikes policies, and mandatory minimum sentences. Judges ranked various types of "get tough" measures on a five-point Likert scale.

Sample:   Part 1: Census of state departments of correction. Parts 2 and 3: Stratified random sampling.

Data Source:

mailback questionnaires

Description of Variables:   In Part 1, American Correctional Association Survey Data, state correction departments were questioned on the amount of VOI/TIS funds spent by their state since 1996, number of beds added using VOI/TIS funds and in what types of facilities, how VOI/TIS funds were used to increase number of beds, average prison sentences in 1993 and 1998 for different types of offenses, average time actually served in 1993 and 1998 for those offenses, the effects of VOI/TIS on prison and jail admissions for different types of offenders, and its effects on the composition of the prison population, prison inmate activities and programs, prison staffing, and prison operations. In Part 2, American Prosecutors Research Institute Survey Data, prosecutors were questioned about what "get tough" policies their states had enacted, the efficacy of "get tough" policies in achieving their goals, whether these policies had unanticipated or negative consequences, expected results of these policies, the percentage of cases to which these policies applied, the extent to which these policies had helped accomplish their office's goals, the effects of "get tough" policies on budget and resources, sentences and time actually served, and the criminal justice process, the size of their jurisdiction, and the number of staff in their office. In Part 3, Justice Management Institute Survey Data, judges were questioned about whether their state had enacted "get tough" policies in the past ten years, what kinds of policies were adopted, their effect on the efficiency of case processing, the formal positions of the Judicial Council and Judges Association on the policies, whether the respondent or other judges had input into the policies, how likely "get tough" policies were to achieve certain goals, what results the respondent expected from the policies, the impact of the policies on the criminal justice process, years experience on the bench, the percentage of their caseload that involved criminal cases, whether they handled civil, family law/domestic relations, or juvenile cases, and the population of their jurisdiction.

Response Rates:   A total of 37 departments of correction (72 percent) returned the ACA survey. A total of 129 prosecutors (42 percent), representing 43 states, returned the APRI survey. A total of 89 judges (30 percent) in 35 states returned the JMI survey.

Presence of Common Scales:   Several Likert-type scales were used.

Version(s)

Original ICPSR Release:  

Version History:

  • 2006-03-30 File CQ3336.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.
  • 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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