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. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR09989.v1
Persistent URL: https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR09989.v1
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Date of Collection:
Unit of Observation:
Prisoners admitted to the Diagnostic Unit of the Colorado
Prison System from July 1988 to December 1989.
administrative records data,
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.
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.
The researchers used a convenience sample of inmates
recently admitted to the Diagnostic Unit of the Colorado Department of
self-enumerated questionnaires and official criminal
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.
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.