The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) 2002 State Court Processing Statistics (SCPS) program provided the case processing data on 15,358 felony defendants charged in state court during the month of May in 2002 in 40 large counties in 18 states. The "State Court Processing Statistics Records" file includes information on their demographic characteristics, arrest charges, types of pretrial release or detention, adjudication outcomes, and types of sentences imposed.
The 15,358 defendants were selected through a systematic sample designed to represent the 36,974 defendants who had a felony case filed with these courts in May 2002. If a defendant was charged more than once during May 2002, he or she could appear in the sample multiple times. Each county was assigned to one of four stratum based on volume of court filings. Based on the stratum assigned to the county, the SCPS data on felony filings were collected for 5, 10, or 20 business days in May 2002. Data from counties that did not provide a full month of filings were weighted to represent the full month.
This study includes cases from 40 counties in 18 states: Alabama (Jefferson); Arizona (Maricopa, Pima); California (Alameda, Contra Costa, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Mateo, Santa Clara); Florida (Broward, Dade, Palm Beach, Pinellas); Georgia (Fulton); Hawaii (Honolulu); Illinois (Cook); Indiana (Marion); Maryland (Baltimore, Montgomery); Michigan (Macomb, Wayne); New Jersey (Essex); New York (Bronx, Kings, Nassau, Westchester); Ohio (Franklin); Pennsylvania (Montgomery, Philadelphia); Tennessee (Shelby); Texas (Dallas, El Paso, Harris, Tarrant, Travis); Utah (Salt Lake City); Virginia (Fairfax).
The data collected from the 2002 SCPS program were used as a starting point for a separate BJS study entitled Processing of Domestic Violence Cases in State Courts. State prosecutors and courts in 40 SCPS sites were asked to participate in a study examining how domestic violence (DV) cases are handled by the justice system. These counties were identified because they had participated in the 2002 SCPS data collection, which collected case processing information on a sample of felony cases filed in state courts. Of the counties asked to participate in the study on domestic violence case processing, prosecutors and courts in 16 counties agreed.
State prosecutors and courts in the participating counties provided data on 5,211 felony and misdemeanor domestic violence cases processed in the month of May in the 16 counties, including 4,562 defendants whose most serious arrest charge was a domestic violence offense. Domestic violence includes violence between family members, intimate partners, and household cohabitants. Approximately 3,750 of the cases involved a victim and defendant who were intimate partners.
Prosecutor files were the primary source of information on characteristics of the violent incident, including victim and defendant demographics, measures of the severity of the incident, such as weapon use by the defendant and whether the victim was injured, history of abuse between the victim and defendant, and the presence of witnesses to the incident. Court records were the primary source of information on case processing data, such as charges filed against the defendant, adjudication outcomes, and sentencing information. Case processing data were documented for one year following the defendant's first appearance in court in May 2002. The incident-based and case processing data collected on the 5,211 domestic violence defendants is available in the "Domestic Violence Case Processing Records" file.
The findings and additional details about the methodology from this study are available in two BJS reports - State Court Processing of Domestic Violence Cases (NCJ 214993) and Profile of Intimate Partner Violence Cases in Large Urban Counties (NCJ 228193). Findings in this study may not be representative of those that would have been obtained by examining cases processed throughout the entire year, or from other counties that did not participate in the study.
To examine the pre- and post-adjudication patterns of persons arrested and charged with felony or domestic violence offenses in state courts, BJS used the personal identifiers supplied by the courts to obtain criminal history files from the criminal history repositories in the study's 18 states. Records received from these states provided information on the "in-state" contacts (arrests and adjudications) each sampled defendant had with the justice system within the state where he or she was charged in May 2002 (both prior to and after being charged).
BJS converted the unique content and structure of each state file into a single relational database with a common coding structure that supports multi-state research. For example, all state-specific charge information (state statutes and free-text fields) were recoded into BJS' offense and charge severity codes, a process that enabled BJS to combine the data across states. Court disposition fields (which were often long text strings) were converted into numeric codes to document the adjudication outcomes. The database provides nationally standardized information on the arrests, court dispositions, and sentences during the entire criminal careers of the sampled defendants both prior to and for 30 months following their initial court filing in May 2002.
To an unknown extent, the criminal history data obtained from the state repositories by BJS understate actual levels of criminal behavior. The data include the fingerprint-verified criminal history information maintained by the repositories in an automated format. Criminal history records submitted by police and court agencies to the repositories that were rejected due to poor-quality fingerprints or only maintained on paper were not accessible for this study.
Of the 15,358 felony defendants charged in the state courts of 40 counties, BJS obtained in-state criminal history information on about 86% of the cases (st_ch=1). Of the 5,211 domestic violence defendants charged in the state courts of 16 counties, BJS obtained in-state criminal history information on about 80% of the cases (st_ch=1).
This study includes an arrest file (named "State Criminal History - Arrest Records") and a court file (named "State Criminal History - Court Records") that provides the in-state criminal history information on the defendants in the "State Court Processing Statistics Records" and "Domestic Violence Case Processing Records" files. Each row in the arrest file provides information on an individual arrest charge. Each charge is stacked on top of one another and arranged from the earliest arrest date to the latest. The court file provides information on each court disposition associated with a charge in the arrest file. The arrest date allows one to link individual arrest charges to the associated court dispositions across the files. The link_st variable provides the unique case number assigned to each sampled defendant by BJS that links his or her incident-based and case processing information to his or her state-supplied criminal history data.
The incident-based, case processing, and criminal history data were collected and processed for BJS by the Regional Justice Information Services (REJIS) and the Pretrial Justice Institute.
national, state, local agencies
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.
Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.