BJS: Bureau of Justice Statistics

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Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)
Home  | Terms & Definitions: Corrections
Terms & Definitions: Corrections

Capital Punishment
Capital punishment refers to the process of sentencing convicted offenders to death for the most serious crimes (capital crimes) and carrying out that sentence. The specific offenses and circumstances which determine if a crime (usually murder) is eligible for a death sentence are defined by statute and are prescribed by Congress or any state legislature.

Community corrections
The supervision of criminal offenders in the resident population, as opposed to confining offenders in secure correctional facilities. The two main types of community corrections supervision are probation and parole. Community corrections is also referred to as community supervision.

Custody
To have custody of a prisoner, a state or the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) must physically hold that person in one of its facilities. A locality, state, or the BOP may hold inmates over whom a different government maintains jurisdiction.

Custody count
The number of offenders in custody. To have custody of a prisoner, a state or the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) must physically hold that person in one of its facilities. A locality, state, or the BOP may have custody of a prisoner over whom a different government maintains jurisdiction.

Death row
Death row refers to incarcerated persons who have been sentenced to death and are awaiting execution (as in "inmates on death row"). Historically, death row was a slang term which referred to the area of a prison in which prisoners who were under a sentence of death were housed. Usage of the term continues despite the fact that many states do not maintain a separate unit or facility for condemned inmates.

Design capacity
The number of inmates that planners or architects intended for the facility.

Federal prisons
Prison facilities run by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). Prisoners housed in these facilities are under the legal authority of the federal government. This excludes private facilities under exclusive contract with BOP.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees
ICE holds persons for immigration violations in federal, state, and locally operated prisons and jails, as well as in privately-operated facilities under exclusive contract and ICE-operated facilities. Persons serving time in a local jail or in state or federal prison for either a criminal or immigration offense may be turned over to ICE after completing their sentence.

Imprisoned population
The population of inmates confined in prison or other facilities under the jurisdiction of the state or Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Imprisonment rate
The number of prisoners under state or federal jurisdiction sentenced to more than one year, per 100,000 U.S. residents.

Incarcerated population
Incarcerated population is the population of inmates confined in a prison or a jail. This may also include halfway-houses, bootcamps, weekend programs, and other facilities in which individuals are locked up overnight.

Indian country
Statutory term that includes all lands within an Indian reservation, dependent Indian communities, and Indian trust allotments (18 U.S.C. § 1151). Courts interpret § 1151 to include all lands held in trust for tribes or their members. See United States v. Roberts, 185 F.3d 1125 (10th Cir. 1999). Tribal authority to imprison American Indian offenders is limited to one year per offense by statute (25 U.S.C. § 1302), a $5,000 fine, or both.

Indian country jails
Indian country adult and juvenile detention centers, jails, and other correctional facilities operated by tribal authorities or the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), U.S. Department of the Interior.

Institutional corrections
Institutional corrections refers to those persons housed in secure correctional facilities. There are many different types of correctional facilities, operated by different government entities. Local jails are operated by county or municipal authorities, and typically hold offenders for short periods ranging from a single day to a year. Prisons serve as long-term confinement facilities and are only run by the 50 state governments and the federal Bureau of Prisons. Private correctional facilities also operate under contracts for a wide variety of local, state and federal agencies. Other correctional facilities are operated by special jurisdictions such as the U.S. Armed Forces, U.S. territories and federal agencies such as Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Jail inmates
Offenders confined in short-term facilities that are usually administered by a local law enforcement agency and that are intended for adults but sometimes hold juveniles before or after adjudication. Jail inmates usually have a sentence of less than 1 year or are being held pending a trial, awaiting sentencing, or awaiting transfer to other facilities after a conviction.

Jurisdiction
Jurisdiction generally refers to a unit of government or to the legal authority to exercise governmental power. In corrections, it refers to the government which has legal authority over an inmate (state or federal). Prisoners under a given state's jurisdiction may be housed in another state or local correctional facility.

Jurisdiction count
Includes prisoners under legal authority of state or federal correctional authorities who are housed in prison facilities (e.g., prisons, penitentiaries and correctional institutions; boot camps; prison farms; reception, diagnostic, and classification centers; release centers, halfway houses, and road camps; forestry and conservation camps; vocational training facilities; prison hospitals; and drug and alcohol treatment facilities for prisoners), regardless of which state they are physically held in. This number also includes prisoners who are temporarily absent (less than 30 days), out to court, or on work release; housed in local jails, private facilities, and other states' or federal facilities; serving a sentence for two jurisdictions at the same time. This count excludes prisoners held in a state or federal facility for another state or the Federal Bureau of Prisons. However, prisoners housed in another state and under the legal authority of the governing state are included.

Mortality rate
A measure of the frequency of deaths in a defined population during a specified interval of time. It is usually defined as the number of deaths per 100,000 inmates. For example, the overall mortality rate for local jails in 2011 was 122 jail deaths per 100,000 jail inmates.

Movement
In corrections, a movement refers to an admission or a release from a status such as prisoner, parolee, or probationer. Unless specifically noted, a transfer between facilities does not count as a movement.

Operational capacity
The number of inmates that can be accommodated based on a facility's staff, existing programs, and services.

Parole
Parole refers to criminal offenders who are conditionally released from prison to serve the remaining portion of their sentence in the community. Prisoners may be released to parole by a parole board decision (discretionary release/discretionary parole), according to provisions of a statute (mandatory release/mandatory parole), through other types of post-custody conditional supervision, or as the result of a sentence to a term of supervised release. In the federal system, a term of supervised release is a sentence to a fixed period of supervision in the community that follows a sentence to a period of incarceration in federal prison, both of which are ordered at the time of sentencing by a federal judge. Parolees can have a number of different supervision statuses including active supervision, which means they are required to regularly report to a parole authority in person, by mail, or by telephone. Some parolees may be on an inactive status which means they are excluded from regularly reporting, and that could be due to a number of reasons. For instance, some may receive a reduction in supervision, possibly due to compliance or meeting all required conditions before the parole sentence terminates, and therefore may be moved from an active to inactive status. Other supervision statues include parolees who only have financial conditions remaining, have absconded, or who have active warrants. Parolees are also typically required to fulfill certain conditions and adhere to specific rules of conduct while in the community. Failure to comply with any of the conditions can result in a return to incarceration.

Prison
Compared to jail facilities, prisons are longer-term facilities owned by a state or by the Federal Government. Prisons typically hold felons and persons with sentences of more than a year; however, the sentence length may vary by state. Six states (Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Delaware, Alaska, and Hawaii) have an integrated correctional system that combines jails and prisons. There are a small number of private prisons, facilities that are run by private prison corporations whose services and beds are contracted out by state or federal governments.

Prisoners
Prisoners are inmates confined in long-term facilities run by the state or federal government or private agencies. They are typically felons who have received a sentence of incarceration of 1 year or more. (Sentence length may vary by state because a few states have one integrated prison system in which both prison and jail inmates are confined in the same types of facilities.)

Private prisons
Prison facilities run by private prison corporations whose services and beds are contracted out by state governments or the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Probation
Probation refers to adult offenders whom courts place on supervision in the community through a probation agency, generally in lieu of incarceration. However, some jurisdictions do sentence probationers to a combined short-term incarceration sentence immediately followed by probation, which is referred to as a split sentence. Probationers can have a number of different supervision statuses including active supervision, which means they are required to regularly report to a probation authority in person, by mail, or by telephone. Some probationers may be on an inactive status which means they are excluded from regularly reporting, and that could be due to a number of reasons. For instance, some probationers may be placed on inactive status immediately because the severity of the offense was minimal or some may receive a reduction in supervision and therefore may be moved from an active to inactive status. Other supervision statuses include probationers who only have financial conditions remaining, have absconded, or who have active warrants. In many instances, while on probation, offenders are required to fulfill certain conditions of their supervision (e.g., payment of fines, fees or court costs, participation in treatment programs) and adhere to specific rules of conduct while in the community. Failure to comply with any conditions can result in incarceration.

Rated capacity
The number of beds or inmates assigned by a rating official to institutions within the jurisdiction.

Sentenced prisoners
Prisoners under the jurisdiction of state and federal correctional authorities who have been given a sentence of more than one year.

Sexual victimization as reported by adult correctional authorities
Inmate-on-inmate or youth-on-youth sexual victimization involves sexual contact with a victim without his or her consent or with a victim who cannot consent or refuse.

Nonconsensual sexual acts are the most serious victimizations, and include-

  • contact between the penis and the vagina or the penis and the anus, including penetration, however slight
  • contact between the mouth and the penis, vagina, or anus
  • penetration of the anal or genital opening of another person by a hand, finger, or other object.

Abusive sexual contacts are less serious victimizations, and include-

  • intentional touching, either directly or through clothing, of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person
  • incidents in which the intent was to sexually exploit (rather than to harm or debilitate).

Staff-on-inmate or staff-on-youth sexual victimization includes both consensual and nonconsensual acts perpetrated on an inmate by staff. Staff includes an employee, volunteer, contractor, official visitor, or other agency representative. Family, friends, and other visitors are excluded.

Staff sexual misconduct includes any act or behavior of a sexual nature directed toward an inmate by staff, including romantic relationships. Such acts include-

  • intentional touching of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks with the intent to abuse, arouse, or gratify sexual desire
  • completed, attempted, threatened, or requested sexual acts, occurrences of indecent exposure, invasion of privacy, or staff voyeurism for sexual gratification.

Staff sexual harassment includes repeated verbal statements or comments of a sexual nature to an inmate by staff. Such statements include-

  • demeaning references to an inmate's sex or derogatory comments about his or her body or clothing
  • repeated profane or obscene language or gestures.

Sexual victimization as reported by youth in juvenile facilities

Sexual victimization any forced sexual activity with another youth (nonconsensual sexual acts and other sexual contacts) and all sexual activity with facility staff.

Nonconsensual sexual acts any forced sexual acts with another youth and all sexual acts with facility staff involving contact with the penis and the vagina or anus; contact between the mouth and the penis, vagina, or anus; penetration of the anal or vaginal opening of another person by a hand, finger, or other object; and rubbing of another person's penis or vagina by a hand.

Other sexual contacts only includes kissing on the lips or another part of the body, looking at private body parts, being shown something sexual, such as pictures or a movie, and engaging in some other sexual act that did not involve touching.

Staff sexual misconduct all sexual activity with facility staff, including contact with the penis and the vagina or anus; contact between the mouth and the penis, vagina, or anus; penetration of the anal or vaginal opening of another person by a hand, finger, or other object; rubbing of another person's penis or vagina by a hand; kissing on the lips or another part of the body; looking at private body parts; being shown something sexual, such as pictures or a movie; and engaging in some other sexual act that did not involve touching.

Staff sexual misconduct excluding touching sexual activity with facility staff involving contact with the penis and the vagina or anus; contact between the mouth and the penis, vagina, or anus; penetration of the anal or vaginal opening of another person by a hand, finger, or other object; and rubbing of another person's penis or vagina by a hand.

Forced sexual activity includes sexual activity between youth and facility staff as a result of physical force or threat of physical force; force or pressure of some other type (e.g., threatening with harm, threatening to get the youth in trouble, pressuring the youth, or forcing or pressuring in some other way); and in return for money, favors, protection, or other special treatment.

Sexual victimization as self-reported by inmates in adult correctional facilities

Sexual victimization all types of sexual activity, e.g., oral, anal, or vaginal penetration; hand jobs; touching of the inmate's buttocks, thighs, penis, breasts, or vagina in a sexual way; abusive sexual contacts; and both willing and unwilling sexual activity with staff.

Nonconsensual sexual acts unwanted contacts with another inmate or any contacts with staff that involved oral, anal, vaginal penetration, hand jobs, and other sexual acts.

Abusive sexual contacts only unwanted contacts with another inmate or any contacts with staff that involved touching of the inmate's buttocks, thigh, penis, breasts, or vagina in a sexual way.

Unwilling activity incidents of unwanted sexual contacts with another inmate or staff.

Willing activity incidents of willing sexual contacts with staff. These contacts are characterized by the reporting inmates as willing; however, all sexual contacts between inmates and staff are legally nonconsensual.

Staff sexual misconduct includes all incidents of willing and unwilling sexual contact with facility staff and all incidents of sexual activity that involved oral, anal, vaginal penetration, hand jobs, blow jobs, and other sexual acts with facility staff.

State prisons
Prison facilities run by state correctional authorities. Prisoners housed in these facilities are under the legal authority of the state government and generally serving a term of more than 1 year.

Total correctional population
Total correctional population is the population of persons incarcerated, either in a prison or a jail, and persons supervised in the community, either on probation or parole.

Total incarceration rate
The number of inmates held in the custody of state or federal prisons or in local jails, per 100,000 U.S. residents.

Total inmates in custody count
To have custody of a prisoner, a state or the Federal Bureau of Prisons must hold that person in one of its facilities. A state may have custody of a prisoner over whom another state maintains jurisdiction. This count includes inmates held in any public facility run by a state or the Federal Bureau of Prisons, including halfway houses, camps, farms, training/treatment centers, and hospitals. This number includes the number of inmates held in local jails as reported by correctional authorities in the Annual Survey of Jails.

Tribal jurisdiction
Tribal law enforcement agencies act as first responders to both felony and misdemeanor crimes. For most of Indian country, the federal government provides felony law enforcement concerning crimes by or against Indians. Certain areas of Indian country are under Public Law 83-280, as amended. P.L. 280 conferred jurisdiction on certain states over Indian country and suspended enforcement of the Major Crimes Act (18 U.S.C. § 1153) and the General Crimes Act (18 U.S.C. § 1152) in those areas. Indian tribes retain concurrent jurisdiction to enforce laws in Indian country where P.L. 280 applies.


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