National Survey of Youth in Custody, 2008-2009 (ICPSR 33942)

Published: Apr 4, 2013

Principal Investigator(s):
United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. Bureau of Justice Statistics


Version V1

NSYC, 2008-2009

The National Survey of Youth in Custody (NSYC) is part of the BJS National Prison Rape Statistics Program to gather mandated data on the incidence of prevalence of sexual assault in juvenile facilities under the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA; P.L. 108-79). The Act requires a 10 percent sample of juvenile facilities to be listed by incidence of sexual assault. Data are collected directly from youth in a private setting using audio computer-assisted self interview (ACASI) technology with a touch-screen laptop and an audio feed to maximize inmate confidentiality and minimize literacy issues. The first year of collection includes nearly 200 juvenile facilities, with an estimated 10,000 completed interviews with youth.

The NSYC utilized two questionnaires, based on the age of the respondent. The Older Youth questionnaire was administered to youths ages 15 and older, and the Younger Youth questionnaire was administered to those 14 and younger. The survey was divided into five sections. Section A collected background information, such as details of admission to facility and demographics including education, height, weight, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and history of any forced sexual contact. Section B, Facility Perceptions and Victimization, included respondents' opinions of the facility and staff, any incidence of gang activity, and any injuries that had occurred. Section C, Sexual Activity Within Facility, captured the types of sexual contact that occurred and the circumstances of sexual contact. Section D, Description of Events with Youth, and Section E, Description of Events with Staff Member, focused on when and where the contact occurred, the race and gender of the other youths or staff members, if threats or coersion were involved, and outcomes, included whether or not the sexual contact was reported.

Other variables include debriefing questions about respondents' experiences completing the survey, interviewer observations, created variables to summarize victimization reports (due to the complicated routing in Section C), weight and stratification data, and administrative data about the facilities.

United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. Bureau of Justice Statistics. National Survey of Youth in Custody, 2008-2009. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2013-04-04.

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Due to the sensitive nature of the data and to protect respondent confidentiality, the data are restricted from general dissemination. These data are enclave-only and may only be accessed at ICPSR's location in Ann Arbor, MI. Users wishing to view these data must first contact NACJD, complete an Application for use of the ICPSR Data Enclave (available as part of the documentation for this study), and receive permission to analyze the files before traveling to Ann Arbor. More information may be found at ICPSR's Enclave Data Web site.

Completed forms should be returned to: Director, National Archive of Criminal Justice Data, Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, Institute for Social Research, P.O. Box 1248, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1248, or by fax: 734-647-8200.

2008 -- 2009

2008-06 -- 2009-04

The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (P.L. 108-79) requires the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) to carry out a comprehensive statistical review and analysis of the incidence and effects of prison rape for each calendar year. The National Survey of Youth in Custody, 2008-2009 provides the first facility-level estimates of youth reporting sexual victimization in juvenile facilities.

The 2008-2009 NSYC survey consisted of an audio computer-assisted self-interview (ACASI) in which youth, using a touch-screen, interacted with a computerized questionnaire and followed audio instructions delivered via headphones. The NSYC utilized self-administered procedures to ensure the confidentiality of the reporting youths and to encourage fuller reporting of victimization. The survey made use of audio technology to provide assistance to youth with varying levels of literacy and language skills. Approximately 98 percent of the interviews were conducted in English; 2 percent in Spanish.

Administrators in each state, county, and private facility determined the type of consent required for youths to be eligible for participation. Administrators provided in loco parentis (ILP) consent in 63 facilities. In loco parentis is when administrators provide consent "in the place of the parent" to contact youth. In the remaining 132 facilities, administrators required consent from the youths' parents or guardians (PGC). Youth in all facilities also had to assent to participate in the interview.

In each sampled PGC facility, administrators were asked eight weeks prior to data collection to provide a roster of all adjudicated youth assigned a bed; in ILP facilities a roster was provided four weeks prior to data collection.

All youth were sampled in ILP facilities and in PGC facilities with 240 or fewer youth on the roster. In larger PGC facilities, all females and a random sample of males were selected. In both PGC and ILP facilities all incoming youth were added to the sample up to four weeks prior to the survey. Youth who had been present in the facility at least four weeks prior to the survey and were present at the time of the survey were considered eligible.

The result of this process yielded a sample representing 26,551 adjudicated youth held nationwide in state operated and large locally or privately operated juvenile facilities. A total of 10,263 youth participated in the survey. Of these, 1,065 received an alternative survey on drug and alcohol use and treatment, and 9,198 youth participated in the survey of sexual victimization.

Sampling of facilities

A multistage stratified sample design was used. At the first stage of selection, a total of 284 facilities was selected from the over 500 eligible facilities in the United States. Eligible juvenile facilities included state-owned or operated juvenile facilities and non-state facilities with 105 or more adjudicated youth.

Selection of facilities was completed using the 2006 Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement (CJRP), conducted by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Based on a complete enumeration, 548 facilities were determined to be eligible for selection. A small number of facilities were later determined to be out-of-scope. Facilities were out-of-scope if the sampled facility (1) had closed, (2) was a non-state facility housing fewer than 105 youth, or (3) did not house youth for more than 90 days. The facility sampling rates ranged from a low of about 1 in 10 for the smallest facilities to certainty among the largest facilities.

For sample selection purposes, a measure of size equal to the number of adjudicated youth (according to the 2006 CJRP) was assigned to each facility in the frame. Two hundred-and-one facilities were included in the sample with certainty. These certainty facilities were state facilities with at least 90 youth or non-state facilities with at least 105 youth.

Next, one state facility was randomly selected from a designated substratum within each of the nine states that did not contain a certainty facility. The designated substratum consisted of the largest facilities in the state. Within each of the designated substrata, one facility was selected with probability proportionate to the size of facility.

An additional 74 state facilities were selected for the study from the remaining facilities. Facilities were assigned to strata defined by gender of youths held in the facility, percent of youths who were female, facility size, region, and state. Within each stratum, between two and five facilities were selected with probabilities proportionate to size of facility.

In the interest of completing data collection activities by April 2009, the size criterion for the non-state facilities was increased to 150. This eliminated 32 facilities from the original sample. Of the 252 selected juvenile facilities:

  • 26 were determined to be ineligible due to an average length of stay of less than 90 days or some other constraint that precluded obtaining consent of parent or guardian,
  • 18 had closed,
  • 6 housed pre-adjudicated youth only or too few adjudicated youth to permit interviewing,
  • 2 had merged with another participating facility,
  • 2 participated but yielded no usable interviews from the sexual victimization survey.

Of the remaining 198 eligible juvenile facilities, 3 privately operated facilities refused to participate in the survey:

  • Glen Mills School, Glen Mills, PA
  • Northwestern Academy, Coal Township, PA
  • Gulf Coast Trade Center, New Waverly, TX

Selection of youth

Rosters of adjudicated youth were provided by facilities granting in loco parentis (ILP) four weeks prior to data collection and by facilities requiring parental/guardian consent (PGC) eight weeks prior to data collection. All youth were sampled in ILP facilities and in PGC facilities that had 240 or fewer youth on the roster. In PGC facilities that exceeded 240 youth, an initial sample of 240 was selected. Additionally, all females among those not selected were included with certainty. The initial sample was supplemented by youth who were admitted to the facility between the 8th and 4th weeks prior to data collection. In ILP facilities and PGC facilities with at least 240 adjudicated youth, everyone was selected. In PGC facilities with more than 240, incoming youth were selected at the same rate as the initial sample.

Prior to the start of data collection, interviewing capacity at each facility was assessed based on the number of available days, interviewing rooms, and interviewers. In facilities in which the NSYC team had the capacity to complete all of the interviews, all youths for whom consent had been given were selected. In other facilities, youth were randomly sub-sampled so the number of youth did not exceed interviewing capacity.

A total of 25,939 youth were selected. Among these individuals, 7,175 left prior to the interviewing team arriving at the facility. After restricting the sample to those assigned to the sexual assault interview, 54 percent of the youth responded to the interview. Approximately 33 percent of the youth did not participate because parental/guardian consent could not be obtained; 6 percent refused to complete the interview; and 7 percent were non-respondents for other reasons (e.g., they did not complete the entire interview, they were not at the facility at the time of visit, the facility denied access, or they were excluded due to extreme or inconsistent response patterns).

As a result of sampling and consent protocols, youth who completed the NSYC were somewhat older and had committed more serious offenses than other youth in residential placement. Nearly twice as many youth in the NSYC were age 18 or older (26 percent), compared to adjudicated and non-adjudicated youth who had been enumerated in the 2006 CJRP (14 percent). Considerably more youth in the NSYC had been placed because of a violent offense (46 percent) than all youth in residential placement (34 percent).


The universe for the survey was all adjudicated youth residing in state operated facilities or large non-state facilities, locally or privately operated. The universe was restricted to facilities that house youth for at least 90 days. This restriction was imposed to allow sufficient time to obtain parental consent.


survey data

audiovisual touch-screen computer-assisted self interview (AVT-CASI)

Calculating facility-level response rates

Within each facility a base weight was created for each youth in the sexual victimization survey by taking the inverse of each youth's probability of selection. In most facilities youth selection probabilities were the same. However, in some sampled facilities (e.g. where females were oversampled and where rosters contained duplicate records) selection probabilities varied.

An initial facility response rate was calculated by summing the base weights for all youth completing the sexual victimization survey and dividing it by the sum of the base weights for all sampled youth (minus ineligible youth) in each facility.

A final response rate was calculated to account for the deletion of interviews containing extreme or inconsistent responses. This was achieved by multiplying the initial facility response rate by an adjustment ratio. In each facility this ratio represented the sum of final weights for all interviewed youth excluding those with extreme or inconsistent responses divided by the sum of final weights for all interviewed youth including those with extreme or inconsistent responses. This final adjusted response rate was then multiplied by 100.

Calculations for Mt. Meigs Campus (Alabama) illustrate the calculation of these weighted facility-level response rates. The facility listed 278 youth on its roster. Of these listed, 193 were subsampled. Thirteen of the sampled youth were roster errors (and were excluded from the sample). Of the remaining 180 sampled youth, 32 were discharged prior to the visit, leaving 132 sampled for the sexual victimization survey and 16 for supplemental survey. Of the 132 eligible youth, 121 completed the NSYC survey. After adjusting for the probability of selection for each youth, the 121 youth who completed the sexual victimization survey represented 208 youth (or 91.7 percent of the 227 eligible youth in the facility). Three of the youth provided extreme or three or more inconsistent responses and were excluded. After adjusting for the probability of selection for each youth, a ratio adjustment of .974 was applied to the initial response rate, resulting in an overall facility response rate of 89.3 percent (.974 times .917 times 100 percent).



2013-04-04 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.

The survey data were weighted to provide facility-level and national-level estimates. To generate facility estimates, an initial weight was assigned to each youth corresponding to the inverse of the probability of selection within each facility. A series of adjustments were applied to the initial weight to compensate for nonresponse. These adjustments were completed in three steps:

1. Adjustment cells were constructed based on the number of locked doors the youth had to go through to leave the facility, offense, race/Hispanic origin, age, gender, and the number of days the youth had been in facility.

2. An adjustment required a minimum nonresponse cell size of 10 responding youth. In many facilities, this resulted in no nonresponse adjustment, as either the facility had too few interviews (less than 20) to create multiple cells or the differences between respondents and non-respondents were not significant. In facilities where significant differences were observed, two to four non-response cells were created.

3. After an initial non-response adjustment, the weights within a facility were examined. If the highest weight was four times greater than the lowest weight in the facility, the highest weights were trimmed and the difference in weighted counts distributed to the remaining youth, so that after trimming the high-to-low ratio in the final weight would be equal to four.

To generate national estimates, the facility weights were adjusted to reflect each facility's probability of selection into the sample and then were adjusted for facility non-response. The steps in creating the national weight adjustments were the same as those described for facility-level weights.


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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.