To fill the need for critical data concerning the youth who are remanded to residential
placement in the juvenile justice system, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
(OJJDP) has engaged in an ongoing program to develop a comprehensive array of complementary and
interlocking national surveys. The Survey of Youth in Residential Placement (SYRP) is the third
addition to this constellation of surveys, which also includes the Census of Juveniles in Residential
Placement (CJRP) and the Juvenile Residential Facility Census (JRFC). Together, the three surveys on
youth in custody collect and disseminate information that will assist OJJDP, other juvenile justice
policymakers, and juvenile justice program administrators in their mission to provide appropriate, safe,
and accountability-based programming for youth in custody. Unlike the CJRP and JRFC, which gather
information from the facility administrators, the SYRP obtains information from the youth themselves
through self-administered interviews. These interviews provide information that is not currently
obtainable in any other way concerning the characteristics and backgrounds of the youth, their offense
histories, their service needs and the services they received while in custody, their safety and security in
the residential setting, and their expectations for the future.
SYRP uses an audio computer-assisted self-interview (ACASI) system to ask questions and record answers. With this system, youth wear headphones and hear a prerecorded interviewer's voice read the words on the screen. Youth indicate their response choice by touching it on the screen. The computer program automatically navigates to the next appropriate question based on the youth's earlier answers, storing all the data anonymously and securely. The method avoids literacy problems, encourages candid answers on sensitive topics, and permits strong privacy and confidentiality. Survey responses are never associated with youth's identities and delinked from facility identifiers before data are unencrypted for analysis. This meant that SYRP could ask youth about their experiences of violence and abuse without having sufficient information to provide actionable reports to child protection authorities.
SYRP used a stratified, two-stage, probability-proportional-to-size (PPS) sample design. Facilities were sampled at the first stage using a function of the facility offender count as the size measure. Clusters of youth were sampled from each selected facility at the second stage. Both pre- and post-adjudication youth and facilities are part of SYRP. The sample included 290 facilities selected from a total of 3,893 facilities on the census listings in August 2001 and/or September 2002.
Offender youth between the ages of 10 and 20 in all facilities surveyed for the Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement (CJRP) and the Juvenile Residental Facility Census (JRFC) excluding only extremely small facilities (those with fewer than three offender youth in residence).
The survey included 12 topical sections, covering youth's demographics, the living conditions in the facility, the offenses that led to their current custody placement, their previous use of drugs or alcohol and any substance counseling they received while in custody, emotional problems and symptoms and any couseling they received for these, their needs for medical services and use of medical services while in custody, their educational status and educational services received, their understanding of the facility's rules and their experiences of the application of these rules, their security while in custody including access to contraband, their experiences of victimization both while in their current placement and previously while living in a household, their prior convictions for offenses and any prior custody or probation, and their expectations for the future.
SYRP also forged explicit links between the youth's interview answers and the information gathered in the normal cycles of the two census surveys by adapting and updating the latest CJRP and JRFC information for the SYRP sample. The SYRP public use data file includes those CJRP and JRFC data items that were used in findings reported in the SYRP bulletins and reports.
Facility: Of the 290 facilities selected for the SYRP, a total of 240 facilities were in-scope and 85 percent of these participated in the survey.
Youth: A total of 7,073 youth completed the survey out of the total 9,495 eligible youth who were sampled,
yielding a youth-level response rate of 74.5 percent.