The purpose of the National Inmate Survey (NIS) is to gather data on inmates experiences within the state and federal judicial system. It is part of the Bureau of Justice Statistics Prison Rape Statistics Program (PREA). The primary data gathered as part of this program is on the prevalence of sexual assault and rape in correctional facilities. The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA; P.L. 108-79) requires a 10 percent sample of correctional facilities to be listed by incidence of sexual assault, with a minimum of one prison and one jail facility in each state.
A secondary purpose is to report on substance use, alcohol use, and substance abuse treatment prior to and during incarceration. The data in this particular study focuses solely on these secondary purposes. The data file does not contain data on sexual assault and rape during the respondent's stay in jail.
Inmates are randomly assigned to receive either a survey of sexual victimization or an alternative survey. Facility staff, nor the interviewer, know which survey is randomly assigned to the inmate. Although respondents are randomly selected to one particular survey the only modules that respondents were asked to complete for this study were on the topics of past drug use, alcohol use, and treatment for substance abuse.
The survey typically takes an inmate 27 minutes to complete. If the respondent is not done at 30 minutes, then he or she is not allowed to start a new survey section. The interviewer began the survey using the computer asking for basic background information. The remainder of the
interview was conducted in private where the inmate interacted with a computer administered
questionnaire using a touchscreen and synchronized
audio instructions delivered via headphones. The interviewer either left the room or moved away from the computer while the inmate completed the interview.
The NIS-1, conducted between April and August 2007, randomly selected 282 jails nationally. Then between October 2008 and December 2009 the NIS-2 randomly selected 286 jails. There was a total of 156,019 inmates selected during the two distinct waves of data collection. A total of 93,480 ended up participating in the survey. Of that total, 79,973 completed the drug, alcohol, and treatment modules.
Please refer to the codebook for details about the study sampling provided by the Principal Investigator.
Inmates age 18 or older held in a local jail.
Questions from the NIS-1 and NIS-2 included in this data file are from five of the sections of the larger questionnaire:
- Section A: Inmate Demographics - race, ethnicity, education, relationship status, sexual history, sexual orientation
- Section J: Drug Use - use details of 15 drug types, consequences of use
- Section H: Alcohol Use - use details of alcohol, consequences of use
- Section K: Treatment - types of treatment attended, history of visits
- Section M: Interview Debriefing Items - interviewer's assessment of respondents effort, understanding, and experience during the interview
The last half of the data file are derived variables created by the Principal Investigator.
- 72 percent for NIS-1
- 71 percent for NIS-2