BJS: Bureau of Justice Statistics

clear image
Home  |  About Us  |  Contact Us  |  Get notifications  |  Help  |  A-Z Topic List
Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)
clear image
Home  | Terms & Definitions: Corrections | Special populations
Terms & Definitions: Special populations

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.

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 (BOP).

Incarcerated population
Incarcerated population is the population of inmates confined in a prison or a jail. This may also include halfway houses, boot camps, 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 section 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, U.S. Department of the Interior.

Institutional corrections
Persons housed in secure correctional facilities. There are many different types of correctional facilities, operated by different government entities. Local jails are generally operated under the authority of a sheriff, police chief, or county or city administrator, and typically hold offenders for short periods ranging from a single day to a year. A small number of jails are privately operated. Prisons serve as long-term confinement facilities and are only run by the 50 state governments and the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). 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, including the U.S. Armed Forces, U.S. territories, and federal agencies, such as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

A unit of government or the legal authority to exercise governmental power. In corrections, it refers to the government that 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
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 government entity physically holds them. This number also includes prisoners who are temporarily absent (fewer than 30 days), out to court, or on work release; housed in local jails, private facilities, and other states or federal facilities; and 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 (BOP). However, prisoners housed in another state and under the legal authority of the governing state are included.

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

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 statuses include parolees who have only financial conditions remaining, have absconded, or 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.

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, which are facilities run by private prison corporations whose services and beds are contracted out by state or federal governments.

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 (BOP).

Sentenced prisoners
Prisoners under the jurisdiction of state and federal correctional authorities who have been given a sentence 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 (BOP) must physically 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 BOP, 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 American 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.

Back to Top