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2019 Census of Jails and 2020-23 Annual Survey of Jails

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2018, $2,559,993)

The Census of Jails (COJ) is BJS’s longest-running data collection that studies the nation’s local jails. Since 1970, BJS has been conducting the COJ every 5 or 6 years to collect data on jail facilities and the inmate populations they supervise. The last COJ took place in 2014 and collected 2013 year-end data. Administered to about 3,200 county and city jails (local jails) nationwide, the COJ is BJS’s most comprehensive establishment study of jails and provides the sampling frame for BJS’s jail surveys such as the Annual Survey of Jails (ASJ) and the Survey of Inmates in Local Jails (SILJ).

The COJ produces statistics on jail population size and characteristics, including one-day custody counts, U.S. citizen and non-U.S. citizen counts, sex and race composition, juvenile counts, unconfined and supervised population, counts by conviction status, holds for ICE and other authorities, average daily population, admissions, releases, and turnover rates. It also collects data on facility characteristics, including rated capacity, facility functions, staffing, and programs for inmates. BJS publishes estimates of the jail population and facility characteristics at the national and state levels from the COJ.

Started in 1982, the ASJ has been conducted in the years between the COJ to produce annual national statistics on jail populations. The ASJ is administered to a nationally representative sample of jail jurisdictions drawn from the latest COJ data using stratified sampling. Currently, about 2,850 jail jurisdictions exist in the United States, and approximately a third of them are included in the ASJ sample. Data collected from the ASJ are published in BJS’s Jail Inmates annual bulletin series.

The ASJ sample is selected from the most recent COJ data using stratified sampling and the Neyman allocation method to minimize the sampling error of national population estimates. The ASJ uses a panel design. The sampled jails are surveyed on the same items annually until the sample is refreshed with the next COJ collection. This panel design allows for tracking jail-level changes over time. A refreshment interval of approximately 5 years helps BJS build rapport with agencies, while mitigating survey fatigue and ensuring that the ASJ sample stays relatively current.

To improve efficiency, BJS is combining the 2019 COJ and 2020-23 ASJ collections into one solicitation. Because the ASJ and COJ forms are similar and the ASJ sample is drawn from the COJ data, using the same data collection agent for both collections will allow BJS to save time and money by developing ASJ collection tools from COJ work products.

Pursuant to specifications of the solicitation for the 2019 COJ and 2020-23 ASJ, RTI will conduct data collection and related activities for one collection cycle of the COJ and 4 collection cycles of the ASJ from January 1, 2019, through February 29, 2024. RTI is expected to:
1. Assist with the OMB clearance requests for COJ and ASJ.
2. Develop and implement a plan to ensure an accurate and complete roster of jail facilities to administer the COJ.
3. Finalize the COJ and ASJ instruments.
4. Develop and test the web surveys for the COJ and ASJ.
5. Develop survey administration plans for the COJ and ASJ.
6. Conduct data collection and data quality follow-up.
7. Perform post-survey adjustments (i.e., data cleaning, weighting, and missing data imputation) and deliver analytic files with full documentation.
8. Develop state-level estimates for the ASJ.
9. Develop an alternative ASJ sample design that will reduce sampling errors and/or improve cross-sectional representativeness.
10. Design and conduct a cognitive test to test new items for the ASJ.
11. Plan and implement strategies to ensure good project management and communication with the BJS project manager.

Note: This project contains a research and/or developmental component, as defined in applicable law.


Date Created: September 25, 2018