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Drug Enforcement and Treatment in Prisons, 1990

U.S. Department of Justice

Office of Justice Programs

Bureau of Justice Statistics


Drug Enforcement and Treatment in Prisons, 1990

July 1992


Full text with tables available from:

BJS Justice Statistics Clearinghouse


Box 6000

Rockville, MD 10850

This study examines how State and Federal correctional facilities seek to

stop the entry and use of illegal drugs. Based on the 1990 Census of State

and Federal Correctional Facilities, the report indicates that nearly 9 in

10 institutions conduct urine surveillance among the inmate population,

usually on a random basis or on suspicion of use. Marijuana and cocaine

were the drugs most commonly detected--in Federal facilities about 1 in 100

of the tests for marijuana and 1 in 250 tests for cocaine were positive

while in State facilities about 1 in 16 tests were positive for marijuana

and 1 in 28 were positive for cocaine.

I want to express my deep appreciation to the employees in the 957 State

prisons, 80 Federal prisons, and the 250 community-based facilities who

participated in the census. The 100-percent response rate is, I believe,

important testimony to the utility and significance of national data on the

operations of our Nation's correctional facilities.

Steven D. Dillingham, Ph.D.


Drug Enforcement and Treatment in Prisons, 1990

By Caroline Wolf Harlow, Ph.D.

BJS Statistician

About 7 of every 8 prisons in the Nation tested an estimated total of

565,500 inmates for one or more illegal drugs between July 1, 1989, and

June 30, 1990. In State facilities, 3.6% of the tests for cocaine, 1.3%

for heroin, 2.0% for methamphetamines, and 6.3% for marijuana found

evidence of drug use. In Federal prisons, 0.4% of the tests for cocaine,

0.4% for heroin, 0.1% for methamphetamines, and 1.1% for marijuana were


This report uses information provided to the Census of State and Federal

Adult Correctional Facilities. Data were collected from 957 State prison

facilities, 250 State community-based facilities, and 80 Federal prisons

operating on June 29, 1990. Censuses were also conducted in 1984, 1979,

and 1974, but the 1990 census was the first to gather information on drug

interdiction practices, drug testing of inmates and staff, and inmate drug

treatment programs.

Other findings from the 1990 census include the following:

*Ninety-eight percent of State community-based facilities--those in which

at least half of the residents may leave the facility daily--tested

residents. All Federal prisons and 83% of State prisons reported that they

tested inmates for drug use.

*Seventy-six percent of institutions reported testing inmates for drugs

when drug use was suspected. Twenty percent tested all inmates at least

once during confinement.

*At State confinement facilities 1.4% of tests for cocaine, 1.0% for

heroin, 2.3% for methamphetamines, and 5.8% for marijuana indicated drug


*At State community-based facilities 8.9% of tests for cocaine confirmed

the presence of the drug, as did 2.2% for heroin, 1.1% for

methamphetamines, and 8.1% for marijuana.

*State confinement facilities that only tested inmates suspected of drug

use had higher positive rates than facilities that tested all or random

groups of inmates (6% for cocaine and 14% for marijuana versus 1.5% for

cocaine and 5% for marijuana).

*State and Federal facilities used a variety of methods to prevent drugs

from being brought into the institution, including ques-tioning, patdowns,

clothing exchanges, and body cavity searches.

*At admission inmates were required to exchange clothing in 88% of the

Federal prisons and 59% of State prisons; inmates were patted down in 88%

of Federal prisons and 78% of the State prisons.

*In the facilities using the most intrusive interdiction technique, body

cavity searches, positive drug test results among inmates tested were lower

than in facilities using other methods of interdiction.

*Questioning and search of belongings were widely used for visitors to both

Federal and State facilities.

*Federal confinement facilities reported that they could provide drug

treatment for an estimated 7,800 inmates; State confinement facilities, for

114,000; and State community-based facilities, for 9,400.

*Federal facilities were using an estimated 62% of total drug treatment

capacity on June 29, 1990; State confinement facilities, 78%; and

community-based facilities, 66%.


The Census of State and Federal Adult Correctional Facilities, conducted

periodically by the Bureau of the Census on behalf of the Bureau of Justice

Statistics (BJS), included a new series of questions in 1990. (See

Methodology on page 12 for further information about the census and the

questionnaire.) This addendum--designed with the assistance of the

National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Office of National Drug Control

Policy--asked how facilities interdict drugs and paraphernalia among

inmates, visitors, and staff and who was chosen for each method of


In addition, the addendum gathered information on drug testing policies,

practices, and outcomes. The questionnaire asked facilities to estimate

the number of inmates in need of drug treatment programs and the capacity

of currently available programs.

Methods of drug interdiction

Different facilities have a variety of policies and practices related to

interdiction of drugs from inmates, visitors, and staff.

Facilities may physically check persons entering the facility. Inmates may

be checked for drugs or other contraband when they enter a facility for the

first time or reenter after an absence. The checks may be relatively

nonintrusive, such as verbal questioning or pat-downs, or more intrusive,

such as body cavity searches and clothing exchanges or searches of

belongings. These checks may be conducted among all entering persons,

random groups, or only those suspected of carrying drugs. Many prisons may

use all of the approaches at different times.

The figure below shows a general typology for the range of methods for each

type of drug interdiction. A plus sign (+) indicates the use of a method

and a minus sign (-) means no reported use. Type 1 facilities, for

example, reported using all three methods to choose persons for an

interdiction activity. Type 4 facilities reported performing an

interdiction activity on all persons but not choosing random or suspected


Interdiction All Random Suspected

Type 1 + + +

Type 2 + + -

Type 3 + - +

Type 4 + - -

Type 5 - + +

Type 6 - + -

Type 7 - - +

Type 8 - - -

Interdiction activities:

Most prison facilities patted down inmates and required them to exchange

clothes upon admission or any reentry

Prison facilities perform many activities to prevent drugs and other

contraband from entering. Correctional authorities commonly question

inmates, pat them down, require changing into prison-furnished clothes, and

search body cavities. Eighty-eight percent of Federal facilities reported

that they patted down new admissions and required them to replace their

clothes (table 1). Seventy-eight percent of State confinement facilities

and 71% of community-based facilities patted down newly admitted inmates.

(Community-based facilities are those in which half or more of the

residents are permitted to leave unaccompanied by staff for work or study.

Because inmates regularly leave community-based facilities, drug-related

problems in these facilities are different from those in secured


Fifty-nine percent of State confinement facilities and 26% of community-

based facilities required them to substitute prison clothes. At least

three-quarters of both State and Federal facilities questioned new

admissions about drugs.

When looking for the presence of hidden drugs, facilities were less likely

to perform body cavity searches than take other interdiction measures.

Sixty-one percent of Federal facilities, 45% of State confinement

facilities, and 14% of State community-based facilities reported that they

conducted body cavity searches among inmates at admission.

Institutions could apply an interdiction activity to all inmates, to groups

of inmates selected at random, or to suspected drug users or couriers.

Patting down new and returning inmates and requiring them to exchange

clothes generally applied to all inmates (table 2). Over 80% of Federal

facilities patted down all inmates and required an exchange of clothing.

Almost 78% of State confinement facilities frisked all inmates, and 57%

substituted prison clothes.

In 46% of Federal facilities and in 20% of State facilities, body cavity

searches were conducted among all entering inmates. About 39% of State

confinement facilities reported that a body cavity search would be

conducted when the staff suspected inmates of carrying drugs.

Most facilities searched the belongings

of visitors

Staff checked visitors' belongings for drugs in 93% of Federal

institutions, 87% of State confinement facilities, and 76% of the

community-based (table 3). Visitors were patted down for drugs in 51% of

Federal prisons, 69% of State confinement institutions, and 40% of

community-based facilities.

All visitors were generally subjected to searches of their belongings

(table 4). About 83% of Federal facilities and 57% of State facilities

looked through the personal possessions of all visitors. Frisking visitors

for drugs and checking body cavities occurred primarily if visitors were

suspected of carrying drugs or paraphernalia. Five in ten of Federal

prisons and 4 in 10 of State facilities patted down visitors on suspicion.

About 28% of Federal Facilities and 18% of State facilities searched body

cavities of visitors if the visitors were suspected of smuggling drugs.

Staff were also subject to drug interdiction activities:

When reporting to work, staff were patted down in about half of State

confinement facilities and in more than a fifth of Federal confinement and

State community-based facilities (table 5). In over 50% of Federal

facilities and 40% of State facilities staff were questioned. Most

interdiction activities involving staff were conducted on suspicion of

smuggling drugs. About 45% of Federal facilities and 23% of State

facilities interrogated staff if they were suspected of drug involvement

(table 6). About 19% of Federal facilities also patted down staff on

suspicion, compared to 14% of State facilities. About 23% of State

facilities frisked staff members at random.

Maximum security facilities took more stringent drug interdiction measures

than other facilities

Staff in Federal maximum security prisons were more likely than those in

medium or minimum security facilities to search body cavities and to

require all inmates to exchange clothing (table 7). All Federal maximum

security institutions required all inmates to put on new prison-issued

clothes upon entry or reentry. Nearly 55% of Federal maximum security

facilities, compared to 38% of minimum security prisons, conducted body

cavity searches of all newly admitted or returning inmates.

In maximum security prisons staff were less likely than in other Federal

facilities to question all of the inmates or to pat them down. All inmates

were interrogated in 64% of maximum security prisons and frisked in 73%,

while all inmates were questioned in 94% of minimum security facilities and

patted down in 81%.

The staff in State maximum and medium security prisons were more likely

than those in minimum security facilities to make all entering or returning

inmates exchange clothes (over 60% of maximum or medium security prisons,

compared to 47% of minimum security prisons). In nearly 1 in 5 maximum

security State prisons, staff searched the body cavities of all new or

returning prisoners. Staff performed body cavity searches on suspected

inmates in over half of State maximum security facilities.

State community-based facilities were less likely than State confinement

facilities to search residents to interdict drugs. Staff in about 59% of

State community-based facilities patted down all inmates. In 22% of

community-based facilities, the staff required all inmates to change to

facility clothing, and in 15%, searched body cavities of residents

suspected of having drugs.

Interpreting measures of drug testing

Prevalence of drug use in prisons is difficult to estimate. Part of the

difficulty occurs with record keeping and reporting. A drug test

determines the presence of a specific drug at a specific level. A single

urine sample can be used for a single drug test or for multiple tests for

different drugs. Correctional authorities were asked to report the number

of tests for each drug and the number of positive tests. However, some

authorities may have reported the number of urine samples taken if their

records included only those figures.

Other difficulties in estimating the amount of drug use in prison include

the following:

*Prisons differ in the selection of whom to test. Most facilities do not

choose inmates for testing using a sample with a known probability of

selection: One cannot say that the selected inmates represent all inmates

in the institution.

* Prisons differ in what drugs they test for. Prison authorities may not

suspect the use of a drug and not test for it, even though the drug is used

in their facility. Other prisons may conduct repeated tests for a drug

seldom used.

* A single urine specimen can have more than one positive drug test from an

individual using multiple drugs. Describing positive rates by type of drug

will overstate the number of inmates with at least one positive test.

*Prisons differ in how often they test inmates. Drug testing may be rare

in some prisons and frequent in others.

*Urine tests only detect the presence of most drugs 48 to 72 hours after

use, except for PCP and marijuana, which may be detected up to 30 days

after use.

This varying span, when combined with lack of random sampling, distorts any

estimation of overall drug use.

* Depending on various factors, the presence of methamphetamines may not be

distinguished from amphetamines; therefore, the test results for these two

drugs should be considered together.

*Prisons may differ in the types of tests used. Some types are more

accurate than others, producing lower numbers of false positives and false

negatives. Facilities may or may not perform confirmatory tests, and they

were not asked to estimate the number of false positives and false


For the above reasons, drug test results in this report are not a measure

of the extent of the problem in the various kinds of facilities. Positive

results should be interpreted only as indicating the percentage positive

for the specific tests given.

Testing urine for drug use

Most correctional facilities tested some inmates for illegal drug use

About 87% of all correctional facilities tested inmates for illegal drug

use (table 8). All Federal prisons, 83% of State confinement facilities,

and 98% of State community-based facilities reported testing inmates

between July 1, 1989, and June 30, 1990.

Authorities in facilities which reported data (85% of all facilities)

indicated that they collected 598,000 urine specimens from 468,500 inmates.

When these figures are projected to all facilities, including those which

did not respond to these questions, an estimated 565,500 inmates provided

721,800 specimens from July 1, 1989, through June 30, 1990. (See

"Estimation procedure" in Methodology.)

State minimum and medium security and community-based facilities were more

likely than maximum security institutions to test inmates. About 85% of

the lower security facilities and 98% of community-based facilities tested

inmates, compared to 76% of the maximum security prisons.

Most State facilities testing inmates for drugs performed the tests when

the staff suspected particular inmates of drug use; 76% of the institutions

reported checking inmates based on suspicion of use. Forty-two percent

tested both suspected inmates and random groups, and an additional 14%

tested all inmates (type 1). Relatively few facilities (20%) tested all

inmates at least once during confinement (types 1-4).

Most large State confinement facilities tested for drugs

About 92% of State prisons with a population of 2,500 or more tested

inmates, compared to around 83% of facilities with fewer than 1,000 inmates

and 77% of facilities with a population between 1,000 and 2,499 (table 9).

Over half of the largest facilities tested inmates on suspicion only. Over

half of facilities with a population between 250 and 2,499 tested all

inmates or random groups of inmates in addition to inmates suspected of

drug use. About 70% of community-based facilities tested either all

inmates or random groups and inmates suspected of using drugs.

Almost all work release facilities tested

for drugs

About 92% of facilities that provided special work release or prerelease

programs tested inmates for drugs (table 10). Ninety-three percent of

facilities that separately handled offenders reincarcerated for violating

some condition of their supervised release also checked inmates for drugs.

Over 90% of facilities that performed "other" functions, such as

presentence, psychiatric, or geriatric services also tested their

residents. Nearly 60% of facilities for youthful offenders tested inmates.

For all inmates tested, State prisons reported higher positive rates than

Federal prisons

Nationwide, 3.1% of the tests for cocaine in the 12 months before June 30,

1990, were positive, as were 1.2% of the tests for heroin, 1.5% for

methamphetamines, and 5.6% for marijuana. State facilities reported higher

positive rates for drug tests than Federal facilities (table 11). In State

institutions, 3.6% of tests for cocaine were positive, compared to 0.4% in

Federal prisons. State facilities found 2.0% of the tests showing recent

methamphetamine use and 6.3% showing marijuana use; Federal prisons found

0.1% and 1.1%, respectively.


Same percentage of State and Federal facilities reported positive drug


When facilities rather than individual drug tests are considered, Federal

and State facilities were about equally likely to have found drug use in

their institutions. Around 6 in 10 of both Federal and State facilities

which tested for cocaine had at least one positive test. In over 2 in 10

facilities testing for methamphetamines, the use of the drug was

discovered. Marijuana was detected in about 8 in 10 facilities testing.

Community-based facilities found higher rates of drug use than confinement


Tests had positive outcomes for 8.9% of the cocaine tests and 8.1% of the

marijuana tests administered by community-based facilities, compared to

1.4% of the cocaine tests and 5.8% of marijuana tests in confinement

facilities (table 12). Methamphetamines, however, were found more often in

confinement facilities (2.3% tested positive) than in community-based

facilities (1.1% positive).

Among State confinement facilities, positive test results were highest in

those testing on suspicion only.

How inmates were selected for testing affected the rate of positive

results. Those State confinement facilities testing only when drug use was

suspected recorded higher rates of positive results than other facilities

that tested randomly or comprehensively. When facilities tested only on

suspicion of drug use, 6% of cocaine tests and 14% of marijuana tests were

positive, compared to 1.5% or less for cocaine and 5% or less for marijuana

when facilities tested everyone or at random.

The results for State community-based facilities were opposite those of

confinement facilities. Testing on suspicion only produced a lower

percentage of positive results than testing everyone or a random selection.

In community-based facilities which tested on suspicion only, 4.8% were

positive for cocaine and 6.4% for marijuana; in community-based facilities

using other selection methods, around 9% of tests for cocaine and 8% for

marijuana were positive.

The percentages of positive tests were higher in large facilities

Large prisons, whether Federal or State, had higher rates of positive drug

tests. In Federal facilities with 1,000 or more inmates, 1.4% of the

marijuana tests, 0.6% of the cocaine, and 0.6% of the heroin tests were

positive (table 13). In Federal facilities holding fewer than 500 inmates,

the percentages were 0.5% for marijuana, 0.2% for cocaine, and none for

heroin. Among State prisons, the largest facilities with 2,500 or more

inmates had the highest percentages of positive tests for amphetamines,

cocaine, and heroin.

The facilities holding 1,000 to 2,499 inmates had the highest rates for

marijuana and methamphetamines. Among Federal prisons, the maximum

security facilities had higher rates for positive drug tests than minimum

security facilities. In maximum security prisons, 2.5% of the tests for

marijuana, .7% of the tests for cocaine, and 1.4% of the tests for heroin

were positive. In minimum security, 0.3% for marijuana, 0.3% for cocaine,

and none for heroin were positive.

State medium security facilities generally had higher positive rates than

maximum or minimum security prisons. For each drug in medium security

facilities, the percentage positive was as follows: 6.8% for marijuana,

4.2% for methamphetamines, 1.7% for cocaine, and 1.4% for heroin. In

maximum and minimum facilities, the equivalent findings were 5.0% or less

for marijuana, 0.6% or less for methamphetamines, 1.4% or less for cocaine,

and 0.8% or less for heroin.

Positive results from drug tests varied among facilities performing

different functions

Facilities which confined inmates returned to custody for parole violations

had relatively high percentages of positive drug tests (table 14). More

than 9% of tests for marijuana were positive, as were 6.2% of tests for

methamphetamines, 3.5% for cocaine, and 2.9% for heroin. Facilities

holding inmates who participated in work release programs or who were

preparing for discharge also had relatively high positive test rates: 7%

for cocaine, 6.9% for marijuana, and 1.8% for heroin. Drug/ alcohol

treatment in facilities was associated with relatively high positive

results on tests for cocaine and marijuana use--3% for cocaine and 7.6% for


Facilities handling youthful offenders generally had relatively low

positive test results: 2.1% for marijuana and 1.5% for cocaine.

Positive drug tests were linked to interdiction activities

The State confinement facilities that questioned and frisked inmates but

did not exchange clothes or search body cavities had higher rates of

positive drug tests than facilities doing all these measures (table 15).

The tests in the facilities using less stringent measures were 5.2%

positive for cocaine, 13.5% for marijuana, and 16.2% for methamphetamines.

Tests in facilities performing all types of specific drug interdiction

activities were 1.2% positive for cocaine, 4.6% for marijuana, and 0.6% for

methamphetamines. Facilities which performed all types of interdiction

activities had higher positive drug test rates than facilities which did

body cavity searches and/or clothing exchanges. The facilities doing all

types of interdiction may have adopted more measures as a reaction to

relatively high test rates. The reported rates were from results over the

12 months before the census, while the interdiction measures were those in

place on June 29, 1990.

Facilities that did not question, frisk, or search visitors had the

following positive test results: 8.3% for marijuana and 7.4% for cocaine.

Facilities that inspected visitors' belongings and searched body cavities

when indicated, but did not both question and pat down visitors, had the

following positive test percentages: 2.9% for heroin, 2.6% for cocaine, and

12% for methamphetamines.

Facilities that reported not making special efforts to interdict the supply

of drugs from the staff had 2.6% positive tests for cocaine, 2.2% for

heroin, and 6.6% for methamphetamines. Facilities that questioned staff,

patted them down, and took other actions such as drug testing, when needed

had 1.0% positive tests for cocaine and 0.9% for heroin and


Drug testing of staff was highest

in Federal facilities

While 83% of Federal facilities reported they tested their staff for drugs,

42% of State confinement facilities and 32% of community-based facilities

checked their employees (table 16). About 55% of Federal confinement

facilities tested all staff, as did 30% of State confinement facilities and

19% of community-based facilities.

Seventy-six percent of Federal facilities and about 23% of State facilities

tested employees, the primary staff category tested.

A higher percentage of Federal than State facility staff were tested for

drugs. Fifteen percent of Federal facility staff were tested compared to

4% of those working in State confinement facilities and 10% in community-

based facilities.

A positive test was grounds for dismissal

in over a third of facilities that tested staff

for drugs

In over a third of facilities, policies required that staff testing

positive for drugs be dismissed. In over a seventh, affected staff were

suspended (table 17). Sixty percent of State confinement facilities and

44% of community-based facilities referred positive drug detection cases to

internal affairs. Fifty-nine percent of Federal facilities referred the

case to a departmentally operated program -- generally an employee

assistance counselor who could refer the employee for outside treatment.

Federal facilities were more likely than State facilities to keep their

staff and continue to check them for drugs or to reassign them. Twenty-

four percent of Federal facilities continued monitoring staff with drug

tests, compared to 10% of State confinement facilities and 12%of community-

based facilities.

Inmate/resident drug treatment programs and capacities

Facilities provided estimates of the number of inmates/residents who could

be treated in each of their drug treatment and intervention programs and

estimates of the enrollment in each program. Facilities also estimated

their total capacity for drug treatment and their total enrollment. These

totals were generally lower than the sum of all the separately listed

programs and interventions, possibly for the following reasons:

*some programs listed were not considered true drug "treatment" programs;

*an individual program might have several of the components listed on the

addendum--for example, counseling, education, and urine surveillance--and

hence be counted several times in the specific listings;

*inmates could be participating in more than one program;

*facilities could have some treatment slots which could be allocated to

more than one program and therefore were counted more than once.

Drug treatment/intervention on June 29, 1990

Among the 1,287 State and Federal facilities, 1,024 reported their own

estimates of total capacity and enrollment in programs they considered to

be for drug treatment. Facility capacities and enrollments for drug

treatment were--

Among those Federal facilities that reported, administrators indicated that

on a single day the facilities could treat about 6,100 inmates and had an

enrollment of about 3,800. For reporting State facilities, both

confinement and community-based, the estimated capacity was 90,900 and

enrollment was 69,900.

Prisons could treat an estimated

131,900 inmates for drug addiction

If the reported capacity is projected to all prisons, Federal confinement

facilities could treat an estimated 7,800 inmates; State confinement

facilities, 114,000; and State community-based facilities, 9,400. (See

"Estimation procedure" in Methodology.)

(Treatment capacity and enrollment were estimated from the 77.7% of Federal

inmates in reporting facilities, 72.9% of State inmates in reporting

confinement facilities, and 83.3% of State inmates in reporting community-

based facilities.)

Federal confinement facilities had the capacity to treat for drug abuse 14%

of the inmate population; State confinement facilities, 18%; and community-

based facilities, 55%.

Prisons were treating approximately 100,200 inmates

If the reported enrollment figures are projected to cover all facilities,

the Federal prison system was treating an estimated 4,800 inmates; the

State prisons, an estimated 88,700; and community-based facilities, an

estimated 6,200. (See "Estimation procedure" in Methodology.)

(Treatment capacity and enrollment were estimated from the 77.7% of Federal

inmates in reporting facilities, 72.9% of State inmates in reporting

confinement facilities, and 83.3% of State inmates in reporting community-

based facilities.)

Enrollment in drug treatment was below capacity)

Federal inmates were using 62% of the drug treatment capacity on June 29,

1990. State prisoners were using 66% of the capacity in community-based

facilities and 78% in confinement facilities.

Many factors play a role in these utilization figures. Inmates may refuse

to participate or may have already completed the program. Inmates may not

qualify--too new to the institution, not near enough to the end of their

sentence, rule breakers, under administrative segregation, or in the wrong

custody level. Facilities also may keep some slots open to gain

flexibility to deal with unexpected situations.

Prisons offered a variety of programs

Prisons may offer many types of drug intervention or treatment:

detoxification, counseling, education and/or awareness programs, urine

surveillance, and treatment in special residential units within the

facility. Federal facilities reported they could test 33% of inmates for

drugs; State confinement facilities, 10%; and community-based facilities,

57% (table 18). Counseling was available for 14% of inmates in Federal

facilities, 12% in State confinement facilities, and 48% in community-based

facilities. Residential treatment program capacity was from 1% to 2% of

inmate population for all types

of institutions.

Of all Federal inmates, 9% were enrolled in some form of drug treatment on

June 29, 1990. Among State prisoners, 14% in confinement facilities and

37% in community-based facilities were enrolled. The two most common types

of programs for both Federal and State correctional facilities were

education and counseling.

Drug education programs enrolled 13% of Federal prisoners, 7% of State

confinement inmates, and 25% of residents in community-based facilities.

Six percent of those in Federal facilities were being counseled, as were 9%

of State confinement facility inmates and 32% of those in community-based



The 1990 Census of State and Federal Adult Correctional Facilities was the

fourth enumeration of State institutions and the first of Federal

institutions sponsored by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and conducted by

the Bureau of the Census. Earlier censuses were completed in 1974, 1979,

and 1984.

Census universe

The facility universe was developed from the Census of State Adult

Correctional Facilities conducted in 1984. This list was revised using the

1990 American Correctional Association Directory and information obtained

from State correctional administrators and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

The census included: prisons; prison farms; reception, diagnostic and

classification centers; road camps; forestry and conservation camps;

youthful offender facilities (except in California); vocational training

facilities; correctional drug and alcohol treatment facilities; and State-

operated local detention facilities in Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware,

Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Facilities were included in the census if they:

*were staffed with State or Federal employees

*housed primarily State or Federal prisoners

*were physically, functionally, and administratively separate from other


*were operational on the reference date, June 29, 1990.

The census also included, for the first time, 67 private facilities that

were under exclusive contract by State governments to house prisoners.

Specifically excluded were--

*privately operated facilities that were not exclusively for State or

Federal inmates

*military facilities

*Immigration and Naturalization Service facilities

*facilities operated and administered by local governments, including those

housing State prisoners

*facilities operated by the U.S. Marshals Service

*hospital wings and wards reserved

for State prisoners.

Questionnaire administration

Questionnaires were mailed to facility respondents at the end of June 1990.

Second and third request forms and telephone followups went out in the

fall, resulting in a final response rate of 100%.

Definitions of community-based and confinement facilities

Correctional facilities were classified as community-based if 50% or more

of the residents were regularly permitted to leave the facility

unaccompanied for work or study. These facilities included halfway houses,

restitution centers, and pre-release, work release, and study release

centers. Correctional facilities in which less than 50% of the inmates

regularly left the facility unaccompanied were classified as confinement


Drug addendum

An addendum on drug control activities in State and Federal facilities was

included for the first time in the 1990 census. Facilities were asked to

provide information on the following:

*activities they used with inmates, visitors, and staff to keep out illegal

drugs and drug paraphernalia

*inmate drug testing practices, including the criteria for testing inmates,

the number of inmates tested in total and by specific drug, and the number


*staff drug testing, including groups and basis for testing, number tested,

and procedures when tests were positive

*capacity and enrollment in various types of drug treatment and

intervention programs.

Estimation procedures

When all prisons in the census did not provide data on particular

variables, estimated figures were used where indicated. Total figures were

estimated by multiplying the known or reported numbers by the ratio of the

total relevant population to the reported population. All figures were

estimated independently and total estimates were therefore larger than the

sum of all subgroup estimates. The total population figure used in the

projections varied, depending upon which figure was most appropriate. The

two available population figures are the average daily population and the

prison count on the reference day for the census, June 29, 1990. For drug

testing, table 8, the basis for estimation was the average daily

population, and for drug treatment capacity and enrollment, the basis was

the 1-day count.

Because the census was a complete enumeration, the results were not subject

to sampling error.

Public use data tapes for each Census of Adult Correctional Facilities in

the series, conducted in 1974, 1979, 1984, and 1990, are available from the

National Criminal Justice Archive, P.O. Box 1248, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. 1-


Caroline Wolf Harlow wrote this report under the supervision of Allen J.

Beck. Corrections statistics are prepared under the general direction of

Lawrence A. Greenfeld. Tom Hester edited this report, and James Stephan,

Danielle Morton, and Dorothea Proctor provided statistical review. Marilyn

Marbrook administered production, assisted by Betty Sherman and Jayne Pugh.

July 1992, NCJ-134724

The Bureau of Justice Statistics is a component of the Office of Justice

Programs, which also includes the National Institute of Justice, the Bureau

of Justice Assistance, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency

Prevention, and the Office for Victims of Crime.




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