Annual Survey of Jails: Jail-Level Data, 2012 (ICPSR 34884)

Alternate Title:   ASJ 2012

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


The Annual Survey of Jails (ASJ) is the only data collection effort that provides an annual source of data on local jails and jail inmates. Data on the size of the jail population and selected inmate characteristics are obtained every five to six years from the Census of Jails. In each of the years between the full censuses, a sample survey of jails is conducted to estimate baseline characteristics of the nation's jails and inmates housed in these jails. The 2012 Annual Survey of Jails is the 25th such survey in a series begun in 1982. The ASJ supplies data on characteristics of jails such as admissions and releases, growth in the number of jail facilities, changes in their rated capacities and level of occupancy, growth in the population supervised in the community, changes in methods of community supervision, and crowding issues. The ASJ also provides information on changes in the demographics of the jail population, supervision status of persons held, and a count of non-citizens in custody. Starting in 2010, BJS enhanced the ASJ survey instruments to address topics on the number of convicted inmates that are unsentenced or sentenced and the number of unconvicted inmates awaiting trial/arraignment, or transfers/holds for other authorities. In order to reduce respondent burden, the ASJ no longer collects data on conviction status by sex. Also new to the survey, data are collected on jails' operational capacity and design capacity. Incorporating enhanced capacity measurements enables BJS to describe more accurately the variation and volatility of inmate bed space and crowding, especially as they relate to safety and security in jails. To address more directly issues related to overcrowding and safety and security in jails, BJS started collecting data on staff and assaults against staff from the largest jails. In the modifications to the ASJ, starting in 2010, 335 jail jurisdictions (370 respondents) included with certainty in the ASJ sample survey were asked to provide additional information (forms CJ-5D or CJ-5DA) on the flow of inmates going through jails and the distribution of time served, staff characteristics and assaults on staff resulting in death, and inmate misconduct. The data presented in this study were collected in the Annual Survey of Jails, 2012. These data are used to track growth in the number of jails and the capacities nationally, changes in the demographics of the jail population and supervision status of persons held, the prevalence of crowding issues, and a count of non-United States citizens within the jail population. The data are intended for a variety of users, including federal and state agencies, local officials in conjunction with jail administrators, researchers, planners, and the public. The reference date for the survey is June 29, 2012.

Series: Annual Survey of Jails Data Series

Access Notes

  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.


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Study Description


United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Annual Survey of Jails: Jail-Level Data, 2012. ICPSR34884-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2013-10-30.

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This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. Bureau of Justice Statistics

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    correctional facilities, correctional system, demographic characteristics, jail inmates, jails, population characteristics, probation

Smallest Geographic Unit:    city and county

Geographic Coverage:    United States

Time Period:   

  • 2011-07-01--2012-06-30

Date of Collection:   

  • 2012-06--2012-11

Unit of Observation:    jail facilities

Universe:    All sampled jail jurisdictions (i.e., counties, municipalities, boroughs, etc.) identified from the 2005 Census of Jail Inmates.

Data Type(s):    survey data


Sample:    In years between the complete census of local jails, BJS conducts the Annual Survey of Jails (ASJ). The ASJ is a sample survey of local jails used to estimate the number and characteristics of local inmates nationwide. For the 2012 ASJ, the United States Census Bureau, as the collection agent, drew a sample of 874 jail jurisdictions represented by 929 jail facilities (also referred to as reporting units). This sample represents over 2,800 jail jurisdictions nationwide. Local jail jurisdictions include counties (parishes in Louisiana) or municipal governments that administer one or more local jails. The 2012 ASJ sample included all jails with certainty (67) that were operated jointly by two or more jurisdictions, or multi-jurisdictional jails. Other jail jurisdictions included with certainty (268) were those that (1) held juvenile inmates at the time of the 2005 Census of Jail Inmates and had an average daily population of 500 or more inmates during the 12 months ending June 30, 2005, and (2) held only adult inmates and had an average daily population of 750 or more. Certainty jails jurisdiction in the survey received forms CJ-5D (Certainty Jurisdictions-Central data reporter) or CJ-5DA (Multi-Jurisdiction facilities and privately operated facilities in jurisdictions included with certainty in the Annual Survey of Jails). The remaining jurisdictions were stratified into two groups: jurisdictions with jails holding at least one juvenile on June 30, 2005, and jails holding only adults on that date. Using stratified random sampling, 538 jurisdictions were selected from eight strata based on the two conditions enumerated above and four strata based on the average daily jail inmate population during 2005. The average daily jail inmate population was derived from the 2005 Census of Jail Inmates. These jail jurisdictions received forms CJ-5 (County/City operated) or CJ-5A (Private Facilities operating for County/City jail jurisdictions).

Time Method:    Cross-sectional

Mode of Data Collection:    mail questionnaire, web-based survey

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.


Original ICPSR Release:   2013-10-30

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