BJS: Bureau of Justice Statistics

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Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)
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Home  | Data Collection Detail
Data Collection: Annual Survey of Jails (ASJ)
Status: Active
Frequency: Annually starting 1982; excluding years 1983, 1988, 1993, 1999, 2005, and 2019
Latest data available: 2020

Administered to a sample of approximately 950 local jails (city, county, regional, and private) nationwide, the Annual Survey of Jails (ASJ) provides national estimates on the number of inmates confined in jails, demographic characteristics and criminal justice status of the jail population, holds for federal and state prison authorities, counts of admissions and releases, number of jail employees, and rated capacity.

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Data Experts

  • Zhen Zeng, Ph.D., BJS Statistician (Email this expert)
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    Collection Period

    From 1982 to the present

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    Questionnaires

    Annual Summary on Inmates Under Jail Jurisdiction (CJ-9A/5)
    2016 PDF (416K) | 2015 PDF (439K)
    Annual Summary on Inmates Under Jail Jurisdiction: Multi-jurisdiction or Private Facility (CJ-10A/5)
    2016 PDF (426K) | 2015 PDF (444K)
    Annual Survey of Jails: Certainty Multi-jurisdiction or Private Facility (CJ-5da)
    2014 PDF (103K) | 2013 PDF (215K) | 2012 PDF (100K) | 2011 PDF (88K) | 2010 PDF (92K)
    Annual Survey of Jails: Certainty jurisdictions (CJ-5d)
    2014 PDF (110K) | 2013 PDF (232K) | 2012 PDF (101K) | 2011 PDF (94K) | 2010 PDF (94K)
    Annual Survey of Jails: Non-certainty Private Facility (CJ-5a)
    2018 PDF (149K) | 2017 PDF (428K) | 2014 PDF (97K) | 2013 PDF (215K) | 2012 PDF (95K) | 2011 PDF (85K) | 2010 PDF (95K)
    Annual Survey of Jails: Non-certainty jurisdictions (CJ-5)
    2020 PDF (214K) | 2018 PDF (149K) | 2017 PDF (433K) | 2014 PDF (92K) | 2013 PDF (179K) | 2012 PDF (96K) | 2011 PDF (87K) | 2010 PDF (52K)
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    Documentation

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    Methodology

    The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) periodically conducts census data collections from all local jails in the United States. In years between census collections, BJS conducts the Annual Survey of Jails (ASJ). The survey collects data annually from a sample of local jails and uses the data to estimate the number and characteristics of inmates in local jails nationwide.

    The ASJ uses a stratified probability sampling design based on jail population data collected through the most recent Census of Jails (COJ). Jails in the ASJ sample are surveyed annually until the next sample is drawn. The ASJ sample is drawn at the jail jurisdiction level. When a jail jurisdiction with multiple jail operators or facilities is sampled, data are collected from all reporting units within that jail jurisdiction. The most recent sample refresh occurred in the 2020 ASJ, where a sample of 899 jail jurisdictions was selected to represent the approximately 2,850 jail jurisdictions nationwide. In selecting jails, all jurisdictions were grouped into 10 strata based on their inmate population and the presence of juveniles at midyear 2019. In 8 of the 10 strata, a random sample of jail jurisdictions was selected. The remaining two strata were certainty strata, where all jail jurisdictions were selected. One certainty stratum consisted of all jails that were operated jointly by two or more jurisdictions. The other certainty stratum consisted of large jail jurisdictions that—

    • held at least one juvenile inmate and a total of 500 or more inmates on June 28, 2019 or
    • held 750 or more adult inmates on June 28, 2019.

    See Methodology in each report for details specific to the collection in the Jail Inmates at Midyear series.

    For methodologies prior to the 2006 ASJ, refer to the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data.

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    Changes Over Time

     

    Prior to 2015, the ASJ asked jails to report the total and detailed inmate counts on the last weekday in June (the midyear reference date). In 2015 and 2016, the ASJ collected the total confined population at midyear but detailed inmate counts by characteristics (i.e., sex, race or ethnicity, age category, conviction status, and most serious type of offense) on December 31 (the year-end reference date). Starting with the 2017 collection, the ASJ reverted back to the midyear reference. Comparisons of year-end data with midyear data need to consider seasonal variations, as jails typically hold fewer inmates at year-end than at midyear.

     

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    Publications & Products

    The following publications and products were generated by BJS using data from this collection.

    Impact of COVID-19 on the Local Jail Population, January-June 2020 This report describes the impact of COVID-19 on the local jail population during the 6-month period from January to June 2020, including the impact on the release of jail inmates, admissions to jails, jail capacity, and incarceration rates.
      Press Release (32K) | Summary (PDF 195K) | Full report (PDF 743K) | Data tables (Zip format 30K)

    Jail Inmates in 2019 This report is the 33rd in a series that began in 1982. It provides statistics based on BJS's Annual Survey of Jails and Census of Jails.
      Press Release (32K) | Summary (PDF 197K) | Full report (PDF 601K) | Data tables (Zip format 23K)
    Part of the Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear Series

    Correctional Populations in the United States, 2017-2018 This report is the 23rd in a series that began in 1985. It provides statistics on populations supervised by adult correctional systems in the United States, including persons held in prisons or jails and those supervised in the community on probation or parole.
      Full report (PDF 701K) | Data tables (Zip format 17K)
    Part of the Correctional Populations in the United States Series

    Tribal Crime Data-Collection Activities, 2020 Describes activities by the Bureau of Justice Statistics to collect and improve data on crime and justice in Indian country, including data-collection programs and activities during 2020.
      Full report (PDF 550K) | Data tables (Zip format)
    Part of the Tribal Crime Data Collection Activities Series

    Jail Inmates in 2018 This report is the 32nd in a series that began in 1982. It provides statistics based on BJS's Annual Survey of Jails and Census of Jail Inmates.
      Press Release (179K) | Summary (PDF 479K) | Full report (PDF 825K) | Data tables (Zip format 40K)
    Part of the Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear Series

    Jail Inmates in 2017 Presents data on inmates confined in local jails from 2005 to 2017, including population counts and incarceration rates, inmate demographic characteristics and conviction status, admissions, jail capacity, and inmate turnover rates.
      Press Release (213K) | Summary (PDF 203K) | Full report (PDF 705K) | Data tables (Zip format 24K)
    Part of the Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear Series

    Correctional Populations in the United States, 2016 Presents statistics on persons supervised by U.S. adult correctional systems at year-end 2016, including persons supervised in the community on probation or parole and those incarcerated in state or federal prison or local jail.
      Press Release (71K) | Full report (PDF 635K) | Data tables (Spreadsheet 14K)
    Part of the Correctional Populations in the United States Series

    Jail Inmates in 2016 Presents data on inmates confined in local jails between 2000 and 2016, including population counts and incarceration rates, inmate demographic characteristics and conviction status, average daily population, rated capacity of local jails and percent of capacity occupied, and turnover rates by jurisdiction size.
      Press Release (80K) | Summary (PDF 198K) | Full report (PDF 662K) | Comma-delimited format (CSV) (Zip format 21K)
    Part of the Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear Series

    American Indian and Alaska Natives in Local Jails, 1999-2014 Describes the population of American Indian and Alaska Natives (AIAN) held in local jails, including national and state level estimates, characteristics of adult AIAN inmates, and comparisons to all other races and Hispanic origin.
      Summary (PDF 211K) | Full report (PDF 703K) | ASCII file (40K) | Comma-delimited format (CSV) (Zip format 18K)
    Part of the American Indians and Crime Series

    Correctional Populations in the United States, 2015 Presents statistics on persons supervised by adult correctional systems in the United States at yearend 2015, including persons supervised in the community on probation or parole and those incarcerated in state or federal prison or local jail.
      Press Release | Full report (PDF 787K) | ASCII file (43K) | Data tables (Spreadsheet 23K)
    Part of the Correctional Populations in the United States Series

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    Related Topics

  • Corrections
  • Corrections | Total correctional population
  • Corrections | Local jail inmates and jail facilities
  • Corrections | Local jail inmates and jail facilities | Jail inmate characteristics
  • Corrections | Local jail inmates and jail facilities | Local jail facility characteristics
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