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National Prisoner Statistics and Corrections Reporting Programs


Highlights

  • Is it possible to use prison statistical systems to inform policy?
  • Abt improved state and local coordination, and linked individual records
  • Abt put the NCRP on a firm scientific footing
The Challenge

For years, collecting prisoner data was treated as little more than an accounting exercise: PIPO (prisoner in, prisoner out). The National Prisoner Statistics (NPS) program counts male and female prisoners each year plus confirmed HIV and AIDS cases. The National Corrections Reporting Program (NCRP) collects data on offenders entering or leaving state prisons or parole. Was it possible to transform the programs into statistical systems to inform policy?

The Approach

Abt did just that. Steps included:

  • Improving coordination with state data providers to reverse a decade-long drop in state NCRP participation.
  • Linking records of multiple state and federal prison terms for a comprehensive view of prisoner histories.
  • Pioneering expansion of the NCRP to include post-confinement community-supervision records.

Increasing the NCRP’s transparency to data users.

The Results

Working with the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Abt put the NCRP on a firm scientific footing. Through white papers, peer-reviewed articles, and presentations at national meetings, Abt researchers have demonstrated how the enhanced NCRP can use statistics and evaluation design to raise and answer important policy questions. Abt’s analysis, for example, spotted the graying of the prison population, which has implications for issues such as prison health costs, overall prison budgets, and early-release programs.