Management of Death Row Inmates, 1986-1987: [United States] (ICPSR 9917)

Published: Jan 12, 2006 View help for published

Principal Investigator(s): View help for Principal Investigator(s)
Rauch W. Hardy; American Correctional Association

Version V1

These data offer objective and subjective information about current death row inmates and the management policies and procedures related to their incarceration. The major objectives of the study were to gather data about the inmate population and current management policies and procedures, to identify issues facing correctional administrators in supervising the growing number of condemned inmates, and to offer options for improved management. Four survey instruments were developed: (1) a form for the Department of Corrections in each of the 37 states that had a capital punishment statute as of March 1986, (2) a form for each warden of an institution that housed death-sentenced inmates, (3) a form for staff members who worked with such inmates, and (4) a form for a sample of the inmates. The surveys included questions about inmate demographics (e.g., date of birth, sex, race, Hispanic origin, level of education, marital status, and number of children), the institutional facilities available to death row inmates, state laws pertaining to them, training for staff who deal with them, the usefulness of various counseling, medical, and recreational programs, whether the inmates expected to be executed, and the challenges in managing the death row population. The surveys did not probe legal, moral, or political arguments about the death penalty itself.

Hardy, Rauch W., and American Correctional Association. Management of Death Row Inmates, 1986-1987: [United States]. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2006-01-12.

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United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (85-IJ-CX-0065)
Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research
1986 -- 1987
1986 -- 1989

The American Correctional Association undertook this study to explore prison management practices insofar as they affect the death row population. The increasing number of inmates awaiting execution nationwide and the increasing length of time those inmates spend on death row may affect management practices now and in the future. Areas of inquiry for this study included classification of death row inmates as well as their housing, security, staffing, and freedom of movement. The survey gathered basic demographic data about the inmates and their use of time during incarceration, including policies for the access given death row inmates to medical services, counseling services, religious and recreational activities, food service, vocational and avocational training, work, education, legal visits, mail and telephone privileges, and grievance procedures. Other policy questions addressed by this study included determining the necessity of confining all condemned inmates in one location, the extent of contact between death row inmates and other inmates, the necessity of altering staffing patterns and training staff to manage these inmates, and the liability concerns of death row supervision.

This study was designed to help provide information on death-sentenced inmates in terms of long-term correctional assignments. The study design was developed to address three goals: (1) to collect demographic data on death-sentenced inmates, (2) to compile state laws, departmental and institutional policies and procedures, and special reports relating to management of death-sentenced inmates, and (3) to obtain the thoughts and recommendations of those individuals most closely associated with the inmates. In order to achieve these goals, the survey design attempts to measure both the opinions and the demographic characteristics of the subject. State Department of Corrections directors, wardens, representative staff, and the inmates themselves were chosen as survey subjects.

Surveys were sent to directors of the Departments of Corrections in the 37 states that had a death penalty as of March 31, 1986. Subsequently, the other three types of survey forms were packaged for 40 of the 50 United States institutions which housed death row inmates. Five to 10 staff surveys were sent to each institution. In institutions housing 20 or fewer death row inmates, surveys were sent to all inmates. For those institutions with larger death row populations, male death row inmates were randomly sampled, but all female death-sentenced inmates were surveyed.

Directors of state Departments of Corrections, wardens and staff who dealt with death-sentenced inmates, and death-sentenced inmates in the United States.


self-enumerated questionnaires

survey data

Survey topics about the death row population included inmate demographics, inmate work assignments, payments to inmates, housing options, litigation regarding conditions of confinement, opportunities for fraternization with inmates in the general population, communication privileges, custody classifications and precautions, assaults and other disturbances, escapes, staff demographics, and warden and staff opinions on management techniques.

For Departments of Corrections in the 37 states with capital punishment statutes, the response rate was 97 percent. For wardens in the regular institutions which house death row inmates, the response rate was 85.1 percent. For staff, the response rate was 87.8 percent. For male inmates, the response rate was 52.2 percent and for female inmates, 70.0 percent.




2018-02-15 The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented. The previous citation was:
  • Hardy, Rauch W., and American Correctional Association. Management of Death Row Inmates, 1986-1987: [United States]. ICPSR09917-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1993.

2006-01-12 All files were removed from dataset 5 and flagged as study-level files, so that they will accompany all downloads.


  • 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.

  • The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented.
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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.