Census of Jails, 2019 (ICPSR 38323)

Version Date: Mar 30, 2022 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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To reduce respondent burden for the 2019 collection, the Census of Jails was combined with the Deaths in Custody Reporting Program (DCRP). The census provides the sampling frame for the nationwide Survey of Inmates in Local Jails (SILJ) and the Annual Survey of Jails (ASJ). Previous jail enumerations were conducted in 1970 (ICPSR 7641), 1972 (ICPSR 7638), 1978 (ICPSR 7737), 1983 (ICPSR 8203), 1988 (ICPSR 9256), 1993 (ICPSR 6648), 1999 (ICPSR 3318), 2005 (ICPSR 20367), 2006 (ICPSR 26602), and 2013 (ICPSR 36128). The RTI International collected the data for the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2013 and 2019. The United States Census Bureau was the collection agent from 1970-2006.

The 2019 Census of Jails gathered data from all jail detention facilities holding inmates beyond arraignment, a period normally exceeding 72 hours. Jail facilities were operated by cities and counties, by private entities under contract to correctional authorities, and by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP).

Excluded from the census were physically separate temporary holding facilities such as drunk tanks and police lockups that do not hold persons after being formally charged in court. Also excluded were state-operated facilities in Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Alaska, which have combined jail-prison systems. Fifteen independently operated jails in Alaska were included in the Census.

The 2019 census collected information on the number of confined inmates, number of persons supervised outside jail, number of inmates participating in weekend programs, number of confined non-U.S. citizens, number of inmates by sex and adult or juvenile status, number of juveniles held as adults, number of inmates who were parole or probation violators, number of inmates by conviction status, number of inmates by felony or misdemeanor status, number of inmates held by race or Hispanic origin, number of inmates held for other jurisdictions or authorities, average daily population, rated capacity, admissions and releases, number of staff employed by local jails, facility functions, and number of jails under court orders and consent decrees.

The 2019 census also included a module to collect data on the effects of the opioid epidemic on local jails and jail responses to the epidemic. Items included:

  • Jail practices on opioid use disorder testing, screening, and treatment.
  • Number of local jail admissions screened during June 2019.
  • Number of positive screens.
  • Number of admissions treated for opioid use disorder.
  • Number of jail inmates treated for opioid withdrawal at midyear 2019.

United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Census of Jails, 2019. Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2022-03-30. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR38323.v1

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

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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


The respondent universe was derived from a facility list maintained by the Census Bureau for BJS, from correctional association directories, and from other secondary sources. Census forms were sent to each jail jurisdiction. In addition to a paper form, BJS offered respondents an electronic version via the internet, allowing them to complete and submit their completed questionnaires on-line.


All locally, regionally, and federally administered jails in the United States.

Federal Detention Center, Facility, Reporting Unit

official records

As of June 28, 2019, there were 2,850 active jail jurisdictions in the United States, 183 of which did not respond to the 2019 COJ, resulting in a response rate of 94%.The final data file includes 2,728 jail reporting units, represented by 2,924 facilities.



2022-03-30 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.

Nonresponse weights (variable FINALWT) were calculated in two steps. First, missing data were first imputed for two stratifying variables (confined inmate population and number of juveniles) using a last observation carried forward (LOCF) procedure. The missing data were replaced with the most recent data the same jail jurisdictions reported to BJS's Annual Survey of Jails (ASJ) or Mortality in Correctional Institutions (MCI) jail collection in the last three years (2016-2018). For cases with no prior-year data from 2016 to 2018, a weighted sequential hot deck (WSHD) procedure was implemented to impute the missing data, where the donor for each missing item was randomly selected from a set of similar jails, sorted by related auxiliary population values (e.g., jail size, inmate sex distribution, state or region, and county classification). In the second step, all jail jurisdictions were classified into 10 strata based on their reported or imputed values of confined population, the presence of juveniles, and whether the jail jurisdictions were operated as regional jails per the 2019 COJ.

The nonresponse weight was calculated as the total confined population of all active jail jurisdictions in each state and stratum, divided by the sum of the confined population of all jail jurisdictions in each state and stratum that responded to the 2019 COJ.



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