Survey of California Prison Inmates, 1976 (ICPSR 7797)

Principal Investigator(s): Peterson, Mark A.; Polich, Suzanne; Chaiken, Jan Michael


This survey of inmates in five California prisons was conducted by the RAND Corporation with a grant from the National Institute of Justice. Researchers distributed an anonymous self-administered questionnaire to groups of 10-20 inmates at a time. Using the self-report technique, the survey obtained detailed information about the crimes committed by these prisoners prior to their incarceration. Variables were calculated to examine the characteristics of repeatedly arrested or convicted offenders (recidivists) as well as offenders reporting the greatest number of serious crimes (habitual criminals). The variables include crimes committed leading to incarceration, rates of criminal activity, and social-psychological scales for analyzing motivations to commit crimes, as well as self-reports of age, race, education, marital status, employment, income, and drug use.

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.


DS1:  Data File - Download All Files (4.748 MB)
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ASCII + SAS Setup    SPSS Setup    Stata Setup   
DS2:  SAS Data Definition Statements - Download All Files (0.228 MB)

ASCII + SAS Setup   

Study Description


Peterson, Mark A., Suzanne Polich, and Jan Michael Chaiken. Survey of California Prison Inmates, 1976. ICPSR07797-v2. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1994.

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This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (83-IJ-CX-0006)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    convictions (law), correctional facilities, crime, criminal justice system, prison inmates, recidivism, recidivists, victimization

Geographic Coverage:    California, United States

Time Period:   

  • 1976

Date of Collection:   

  • 1976-07--1976-08

Universe:    Male prisoners who were incarcerated in five California state adult correctional institutions in July and August of 1976.

Data Type(s):    survey data


Data Source:

self-enumerated questionnaires

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:

  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


Original ICPSR Release:   1984-03-18

Version History:

  • 2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions.

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