Survey of Youth in Residential Placement (SYRP) 2003 [United States] (ICPSR 34304)

Version Date: Mar 15, 2013 View help for published

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Andrea Sedlak, Westat

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SYRP 2003

The Survey of Youth in Residential Placement (SYRP) is the only national survey that gathers data directly from youth in the juvenile justice system. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) designed the survey in 2000 and 2001 to survey offender youth between the ages of 10 and 20. SYRP asks the youth about their backgrounds, offense histories and problems; the facility environment; experiences in the facility; experiences with alcohol and drugs; experiences of victimization in placement; medical needs and services received; and their expectations for the future. SYRP research provides answers to a number of questions about the characteristics and experiences of youth in custody including:

  • Who are the youth in placement?
  • What are their offenses?
  • What are their family backgrounds?
  • What are their expectations for the future?
  • How are youth grouped in living units and programs?
  • What activities are available in each facility?
  • How accessible are social, emotional, and legal supports?
  • What is the quality of the youth-staff relationships?
  • How clear are the facility's rules?
  • How clear is the facility's commitment to justice and due process?
  • What methods of control and discipline do staff use?

SYRP's findings are based on anonymous interviews with a nationally representative sample of youth in custody during the spring of 2003 using audio computer-assisted self-interview (ACASI) technology. SYRP is the latest addition to two ongoing data collections that OJJDP designed and implemented in the 1990s. It joins the Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement and the Juvenile Residential Facility Census to provide updated statistics on youth in custody in the juvenile justice system.

SYRP bulletins, reports, and a simplified online analysis tool are available from the SYRP Project Web site.

Sedlak, Andrea. Survey of Youth in Residential Placement (SYRP) 2003 [United States]. Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2013-03-15.

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United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (2001-JR-BX-K001)


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

Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

2003 (Spring)
2003-03-01 -- 2003-06-15
  1. SYRP is a component of the OJJDP's constellation of surveys that provide statistics on youth in custody in the juvenile justice system. It joins the Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement (CJRP), and the Juvenile Residential Facility Census (JRFC), which are biennial mail surveys of residential facility administrators conducted in alternating years. SYRP is a unique addition to these surveys in that it gathers information directly from youth in custody through anonymous interviews. Although SYRP covers the same universe of facilities as the two census surveys, it does so through a sample methodology. Thus, based on interviews with a large, nationally representative sample of offender youth in residential placement, SYRP can generate reliable estimates about the characteristics of the full population of youth in custody.

  2. Individual youth answered the ACASI survey. Their facility administrators provided information about their facility by updating information from the latest CJRP and JRFC. Administrators also provided individual youth information for all sampled youth on Section II of the CJRP form.

  3. Additional information about other national juvenile corrections data collections sponsored by OJJDP is available from the National Juvenile Corrections Data Resource Guide.


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.



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:
  • Sedlak, Andrea. Survey of Youth in Residential Placement (SYRP) 2003 [United States]. ICPSR34304-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2013-03-15.

2013-03-15 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.

Survey weights must be used in any analyses of the SYRP data to compute valid totals and proportions. Youth were included in the final SYRP sample through the random sampling of facilities and of youth within them, but youth were not all sampled with the same probability. The weights reflect the sampling probabilities of the facility and the youth respondents and adjust for nonresponse. In this way, the survey of 7,073 provided accurate estimates of the size and characteristics of the national youth offender population in custody (estimated as more than 100,000 youth).

Users of these data are strongly encouraged to read through the accompanying data documentation for further discussion of methods by which to obtain weighted statistics and for guidance with the use of the methods for proper analysis of the data.



  • 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.