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National Corrections Reporting Program Resource Guide

About the National Corrections Reporting Program (NCRP)

The National Corrections Reporting Program (NCRP) compiles offender-level data on admissions and releases from state and federal prisons and post-confinement community supervision. The data are used to monitor the nation's correctional population and address specific policy questions related to recidivism, prisoner reentry, and trends in demographic characteristics of the incarcerated and community supervision populations. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) has administered the NCRP since 1983. The U.S. Bureau of the Census served as data collection agent for BJS until October 2010, when Abt Associates assumed this position.

From 2000 to 2009, NCRP data were archived each year in four, year-specific files that corresponded to the four files that states were asked to submit to the Census Bureau. The four files are: Prison Admissions (Part A), Prison Releases (Part B), Parole Exits (Part C), and Prison Custody (Part D). For example, the 2009 NCRP dataset consists of prison admissions occurring in 2009, prison releases occurring in 2009, parole exits occurring in 2009, and prisoners in custody on December 31, 2009.

Starting in 2011, NCRP data will be archived in a single, multi-year Term Record file. A Term Record represents a single period of incarceration for an individual offender. Each year, the archived Term Record file will be replaced by a new Term Record file that incorporates new NCRP data collected and processed during the previous year, as well as updates to previously collected data. The Term Records were created from the Prison Admissions (Part A), Prison Releases (Part B), and Prison Custody (Part D) records submitted by states since 2000. With a few lines of computing code (included with the archive), an analyst can create a prison admission, release, or custody file from the Term Record file.

In addition to the Term Record file, three additional files are being archived:

Term Histories

Abt Associates, in collaboration with the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), has reoriented the National Corrections Reporting Program (NCRP) with the goal of improving its usefulness and reliability for describing and analyzing information about prison populations. Abt Associates and BJS have done this by transforming the NCRP from a year-by-year accounting of prison admissions (A records), releases (B records), and prison stocks (D records) into inmate prison terms. For individual offenders with multiple prison terms, their records are linked chronologically to assemble term histories. Thus, overall, for the period where states have reported to the NCRP, the Term Record file contains a comprehensive dataset of term histories within states.

The NCRP white paper (PDF 290K) provides technical documentation for constructing terms and term Histories.

Using the Resource Guide

The National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), a part of the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) at the University of Michigan, designed this Resource Guide for data users to learn about the National Corrections Reporting Program dataset and to connect to other corrections information sources.

With this guide, first time users or experienced analysts can:

Data Restrictions

NCRP data are restricted from general dissemination. Users interested in obtaining these data must complete a Restricted Data Use Agreement, specify the reasons for the request, and obtain IRB approval or notice of exemption for their research. You can apply online for access to the data from the study homepage under the "Access Notes" section.

File Structure

National Corrections Reporting Program data are available from the ICPSR in a rectangular format.

There are three Data Files in the National Corrections Reporting Program. Data File 1 is the Term Record file; Data File 2 contains Prison Admissions (Part A), Prison Releases (Part B), and Prison Custody (Part D) records not used to build Term Records; and Data File 3 is the Parole Exit (Part C) file. ICPSR has also prepared SPSS, SAS, STATA, and R data files and setup files.

NCRP Concepts and Definitions

The NCRP applied uniform measurement rules to the data from the states, using the following concepts and definitions.

Prison

A prison was defined as a state or federal correctional facility having custodial authority over persons sentenced to confinement.

Calendar Year Reporting

NCRP collected data on admissions to prisons, releases from prison and releases from parole for the dates January 1 through December 31. Data were not collected on a fiscal year basis. Records were rejected on individuals if the year of prison admission, prison release or parole release was not reported.

Custody Criteria for Prison Admissions and Releases

The NCRP collected data on all sentenced prisoners admitted or released while under the physical custody of state correctional authorities. The NCRP data included prisoners under the immediate control of state authorities, regardless of the jurisdiction in which the prisoners were originally sentenced.

Starting in 1983, all sentenced inmates were counted including those with sentences of a year or less. Prisoners sentenced to a state prison, but admitted to or released from the custody of a local jail, were also included in the NCRP.

Jurisdiction Criteria for Parole Releases

Parole release information was reported for those offenders under the jurisdiction of the paroling authority. Jurisdiction was determined by the legal authority controlling the offender's release from parole supervision, rather than by the authority assuming physical custody of the offender. Parole jurisdiction was defined, for NCRP purposes, as that agency having primary responsibility for supervising of an offender who was conditionally released from prison after having served a portion of the original sentence. The paroling agency has jurisdiction over an offender if it has the legal power to revoke the parole or to decide when parole supervision is to be terminated.

Prisoner Movements

The NCRP included prisoner movements that increased or decreased the custody counts of each reporting state. Additions to the custody count, such as the arrival of new inmates, the return to prison of parole violators, and transfers from other jurisdictions, were classified as admission movements. Removals from custody, such as the release of those completing their sentences, the release to parole and death, were considered release movements. Multiple admissions or releases per person during the year were recorded as separate movements.

Parole and Mandatory Parole Release

Parole signifies the status of an offender who is conditionally released from prison to community supervision. An offender is required to observe the conditions of parole and is under the supervision of a parole agency. Parole differs from probation: unlike parole, probation is determined by judicial authority and is usually an alternative to confinement. Offenders conditionally released from prison to parole are classified in the NCRP as parole admissions movements.

The NCRP also includes mandatory parole release, i.e., those persons released from prison to parole supervision by virtue of statutes that determine the length of time prisoners are incarcerated. Unlike other prisoners released to parole these prisoners were not released as a result of a parole board decision. Offenders released from the jurisdiction of a parole authority were classified as parole release movements. Types of release movements included completion of parole, revocation, absconding, transfer and death.

Race and Hispanic Origin

NCRP has collected data on race and Hispanic origin since 1983; however, the reporting of the data changed over time. While all states could report on the racial distribution of their inmates, Hispanic origin was reported as unknown for nearly a third of all inmates as late as 1984. In some states this high level of non-reporting was the result of collecting Hispanic origin separately from race, when the prisoner records combined them in a single field. In other states, the prison system did not collect data on Hispanic origin at all, or collected them as a separate racial classification.

In 1997, the Office of Management and Budget published new regulations for the classification, collection, and presentation of federal statistical data on race and ethnicity to better enumerate persons of Hispanic or Latino origin, multiple races, and more specific racial categories. While federal agencies had until January 1, 2003, to comply with the new standards, non-federal entities, including state departments of corrections (DOC), were not bound by the regulations. Most state DOCs have adopted the federal guidelines, although some still cannot meet the regulation due to older information systems that do not record race and Hispanic origin in the standard format.

The determination of race and Hispanic origin differs across states. In some states DOCs, inmates are asked to self-identify race and ethnicity at time of admission, some rely on information in the arrest or court documents accompanying the prisoner at admission, in others prison officials classify the inmates visually upon entrance to the facility. Based on comparisons of race and ethnicity data recorded on administrative records from BJS datasets including NCRP and inmate self-identification data obtained from inmate surveys, Hispanic inmates and inmates identifying as more than one race are underrepresented in administrative data. When publishing national statistics on race, BJS uses the inmate surveys to adjust for the administrative record undercount of race/Hispanic origin (see for example, their Publications & Products: Prisoners). NCRP race and ethnicity data available to the public at the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data are the unadjusted values originally reported by the state DOCs.

Additional Resources

Manuals

Crosswalks

SAS Programs

(Note: ICPSR has reformatted the date variables from SAS date to numeric format while these programs contain the original format for those variables. Users may need to modify the programs before conducting his/her analysis.)

Other National Corrections Reporting Program Resources

Sites

Bureau of Justice Statistics: Corrections Statistics
http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm?ty=tp&tid=11

Bureau of Justice Statistics: Courts and Sentencing Statistics
http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm?ty=tp&tid=23

Office of Justice Programs: Corrections
http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/programs/corrections.htm

Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics
http://www.albany.edu/sourcebook/

National Criminal Justice Reference Service: Corrections
http://www.ncjrs.gov/

American Correctional Association
http://www.corrections.com/aca/

Publications

The link below will search the ICPSR citations database for citations of publications with "National Corrections Reporting Program" in the title. Users can create their own searches or browse the citations database through our Publications Bibliography.

NCRP data from 1983 through 1995 are available on CD-ROM from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service.

Search for NCRP Publications