National Inmate Survey (NIS) - Prisons: Alternative Survey Respondents Only, [United States], 2007-2009 (ICPSR 37016)

Version Date: Dec 19, 2019 View help for published

Principal Investigator(s): View help for Principal Investigator(s)
United States. Bureau of Justice Statistics


Version V1

Slide tabs to view more

NIS Prisons: Alternative, 2007-2009

The National Inmate Survey (NIS) is part of the Bureau of Justice Statistics' (BJS) National Prison Rape Statistics Program, which gathers mandated data on the incidence and prevalence of sexual assault in correctional facilities under the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA; P.L. 108- 79). Inmates are randomly assigned to receive either a survey of sexual victimization or a survey of mental and physical health, past drug and alcohol use, and treatment for substance abuse. The data in this study focuses solely upon substance use and treatment from the "alternative" version of the survey.

These 3,908 respondents contained in this file who completed the "alternative" survey are the same 3,908 alternative respondents from the study National Inmate Survey (NIS) - Prisons: Full Survey Respondents, [United States], 2007-2009 (ICPSR 37017).

United States. Bureau of Justice Statistics. National Inmate Survey (NIS) - Prisons: Alternative Survey Respondents Only, [United States], 2007-2009. Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2019-12-19.

Export Citation:

  • RIS (generic format for RefWorks, EndNote, etc.)
  • EndNote
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 access will be provided via ICPSR's Virtual Data Enclave (VDE).

Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

2007 -- 2009
2007-04 -- 2007-08 (NIS-1), 2008-10 -- 2009-12 (NIS-2)
  1. For further information please visit the Bureau of Justice Statistics website on the National Inmate Survey (NIS).

  2. Data was collected by RTI International under a cooperative agreement with the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).

  3. Variable names in the data file are based off the question numbering from the 2008-2009 NIS-2 survey. Similar questions exist in the 2007 NIS-1 survey, but some will be associated with a different number in the survey.

  4. The PDF codebook includes information provided to ICPSR by the Principal Investigator (P.I.) that provides an overview of the study's design and sampling, weighting and nonresponse adjustments, and sample code and output tables from SAS, SUDAAN, R, and Stata.

  5. The aforementioned P.I. produced section of the codebook states that the data was to be made available in a public use file. However, after the data was deposited with ICPSR BJS instructed that access to the data needed to be restricted. Based upon the study design and available data BJS established the restricted access level be the Virtual Data Enclave (VDE).

  6. The last half of the data file contain derived variables computed by the P.I. based on the survey data. They are listed in alphabetical order. These derived variables offer an additional resource to assist in analyzing the data.


The purpose of the National Inmate Survey (NIS) is to gather data on inmates experiences within the state and federal judicial system. It is part of the Bureau of Justice Statistics Prison Rape Statistics Program. The primary data gathered as part of this program is on the prevalence of sexual assault and rape in correctional facilities. The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA; P.L. 108-79) requires a 10 percent sample of correctional facilities to be listed by incidence of sexual assault, with a minimum of one prison and one jail facility in each state.

A secondary purpose is to report on substance use, alcohol use, and substance abuse treatment prior to and during incarceration. The data in this particular study focuses solely on these secondary purposes. The data file does not contain data on sexual assault and rape during the respondent's stay in prison.

Inmates are randomly assigned to receive either a survey of sexual victimization or an alternative survey. Facility staff, nor the interviewer, know which survey is randomly assigned to the inmate. For NIS-1 and NIS-2 the alternative survey is one that only covered topics of past drug use, alcohol use, and treatment for substance abuse.

The alternative survey typically takes an inmate 27 minutes to complete. If the respondent is not done at 30 minutes, then he or she is not allowed to start a new survey section. The interviewer began the survey using the computer asking for basic background information. The remainder of the interview was conducted in private where the inmate interacted with a computer administered questionnaire using a touchscreen and synchronized audio instructions delivered via headphones. The interviewer either left the room or moved away from the computer while the inmate completed the interview.

Between the two data collection periods there were 313 state and federal prisons randomly selected across the nation to participate in the NIS-1 and NIS-2. Of these 313 total facilities there were 228 state male facilities, 47 state female facilities, 35 federal male facilities, and 3 federal female facilities. There was a total of 83,551 inmates selected during the two distinct waves of data collection. A total of 58,186 ended up participating in the survey. Approximately 10 percent of NIS-1 and 5 percent of NIS-2 respondents were randomized to receive the alternative survey. There was a total of 4,834 inmates who received the alternative survey with 3,908 of them completing the drug, alcohol, and treatment modules.

Please refer to the codebook for details about the study sampling provided by the Principal Investigator.


Inmates age 18 or older held in state or federal prison.


Questions from the NIS-1 and NIS-2 included in this data file are from five of the sections of the larger questionnaire:

  • Section A: Inmate Demographics - race, ethnicity, education, relationship status, sexual history, sexual orientation
  • Section J: Drug Use - use details of 15 drug types, consequences of use
  • Section H: Alcohol Use - use details of alcohol, consequences of use
  • Section K: Treatment - types of treatment attended, history of visits
  • Section M: Interview Debriefing Items - interviewer's assessment of respondents effort, understanding, and experience during the interview

The last half of the data file are derived variables created by the Principal Investigator.

  • 72 percent for NIS-1
  • 71 percent for NIS-2



2019-12-19 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.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

Each interviewed inmate was assigned an initial weight corresponding to the inverse of the probability of selection within each sampled facility. A series of adjustment factors was applied to the initial weight to minimize potential bias due to nonresponse and to provide national estimates. The data file contains the final weight variable WT_FINAL and 30 replicate weights (REPWT##). Please refer to the codebook for details about the creation and adjustment of the weights provided by the Principal Investigator.



  • 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.