Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994 (ICPSR 3355)

Version Date: Dec 5, 2014 View help for published

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

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RECIDIVISM OF PRISONERS RELEASED IN 1994 is a database containing information on each of 38,624 sampled prisoners released from prisons in 15 states in 1994 and tracked for three years following their release. The majority of the database consists of information on each released prisoner's entire officially recorded criminal history (before and after the 1994 release). Sources for criminal history information are state and FBI automated RAP ("Records of Arrests and Prosecutions") sheets, which contain records of arrests, adjudications, and sentences. The study is the second major recidivism study conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The first study, RECIDIVISM AMONG RELEASED PRISONERS, 1983: [UNITED STATES] (ICPSR 8875), tracked over 16,000 prisoners released in 11 states in 1983 for three years. These two studies are the closest approximation to "national" recidivism studies in the United States. They are distinguished by their large sample size (over 16,000 released prisoners in the first study, 38,624 in the second), geographic breadth of coverage (11 states in the first study, 15 in the second), length of prospective tracking (three years from date of release in both studies), ability to track the movement of released prisoners across state boundaries (both studies), and multiple measures of recidivism (both studies). Demographic data include race, ethnicity, sex, and date of birth.

United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994. Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2014-12-05.

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


Access to these BJS-sponsored data is restricted. Users interested in obtaining these data must complete a NACJD Restricted Data Use Agreement available from the ResearchDataGov website, specify the reasons for the request, and obtain IRB approval or notice of exemption for their research.

Restricted Data Use Agreements available on the NACJD website are provided for reference only. Please visit the ResearchDataGov website to download the appropriate Restricted Data Use Agreement and submit your request. Once approved, data may be accessed from a requester secure site via ICPSR's secure download procedures.

Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

1994 -- 1997
1997 -- 2001

The following 15 state Departments of Corrections participated in the study: Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, and Virginia. These departments supplied Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) with information on each person released from prison in the state in 1994 (Note: Illinois releases are for fiscal year 1994 rather than calendar year 1994). These 15 states were chosen as a purposive sample, based on willingness to participate, the state's relative contribution to the overall national prison population, and the state's inclusion in the earlier study of recidivism conducted by BJS in 1983 (see ICPSR 8875). The 15 states supplied BJS with release records on 302,309 prisoners released in 1994, approximately two-thirds of all prisoners released in the nation. Using these records, the researchers drew a representative sample from each state, totaling 38,624 out of the 302,309 released prisoners, stratified by most serious conviction offense. More detailed information regarding sampling procedures can be found in the codebook that accompanies this data collection.

Prisoners released during 1994 in the 15 states that the study covered. The 15 states account for about two-thirds of releases in the United States in a given year.

released prisoners

FBI and state criminal history files, state Departments of Corrections



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:
  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994. ICPSR03355-v8. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2012-01-12.

2014-12-05 A minor change is made to the codebook.

2012-01-12 For variable POTST, values for the state of New York were adjusted per the principal investigator.

2011-03-08 All parts are being moved to restricted access and will be available only using the restricted access procedures.

2009-02-09 Missing value codes were edited to correct for rounding and data entry errors.

2007-03-02 The principal investigator revised the data so that there are 4,834 cases instead of 4,824 for values that are less than or equal to 90 for variable DCDV.

2006-12-01 The principal investigator revised the description for variables RPRSD and RPRSITV in the codebook.

2003-08-27 The principal investigator recoded some values in variables DCDV, RPRSD, RPRSITV, and RELTYP.

2002-10-04 The principal investigator recoded some values (child victim age) in variable DCDV for 89 releases in the state of Virginia.

2002-09-25 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:

  • Created variable labels and/or value labels.
  • Standardized missing values.
  • Performed recodes and/or calculated derived variables.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


  • 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.

  • One or more files in this data collection have special restrictions. Restricted data files are not available for direct download from the website; click on the Restricted Data button to learn more.