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Percent unsentenced detainees of inmates held in US state and federal prisons and local jails


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This table provides metadata for the actual indicator available from US statistics closest to the corresponding global SDG indicator. Please note that even when the global SDG indicator is fully available from US statistics, this table should be consulted for information on national methodology and other US-specific metadata information.

Actual indicator available Percent unsentenced detainees of inmates held in state and federal prisons and local jails
Actual indicator available - description Number of inmates held in prisons who were unsentenced and inmates held in local jails who were not convicted divided by total number of inmates in prison or jails time 100%.
Date of national source publication February 2018
Method of computation Annual enumeration of state and federal prisoners and annual sample survey of jail jurisdictions to provide total number of prison and jail inmates and number unsentenced in custody
Periodicity Annual
Scheduled update by national source November 2018
U.S. method of computation Percentage unsentenced of total inmates held in prisons and jails (excludes youth held in juvenile facilities, persons held in military facilities, persons detained in Immigration and Customs operated facilities, and persons held in US territories and commonwealths).
Comments and limitations National Prisoners Statistics (NPS) - Started in 1926 under a mandate from Congress, NPS collects annual data on prisoners at yearend. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) sponsors the survey, and the U.S. Census Bureau serves as the data collection agent. The NPS distinguishes between inmates in custody and prisoners under jurisdiction. To have custody of a prisoner, a state or the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) must hold that inmate in one of its facilities. To have jurisdiction over a prisoner, the state or BOP must have legal authority over that prisoner, regardless of where the prisoner is incarcerated or supervised. The NPS jurisdiction counts include persons held in prisons, penitentiaries, correctional facilities, halfway houses, boot camps, farms, training or treatment centers, and hospitals. Counts also include prisoners who were temporarily absent (less than 30 days), in court, or on work release; housed in privately operated facilities, local jails, or other state or federal facilities; and serving concurrent sentences for more than one correctional authority. The NPS custody counts include all inmates held within a respondent’s facilities, including inmates housed for other correctional facilities. The custody counts exclude inmates held in local jails and in other jurisdictions. With a few exceptions, the NPS custody counts exclude inmates held in privately operated facilities. Annual Survey of Jails (ASJ) - In years between a complete census of local jails, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) conducts the Annual Survey of Jails (ASJ). ASJ uses a stratified probability sample of jail jurisdictions to estimate the number and characteristics of local inmates nationwide. In the sampling design, the jail jurisdictions nationwide are grouped into 10 strata. In 2016, the 10 strata were defined by two variables: the jail jurisdiction average daily population (ADP), and whether the jurisdiction held at least one juvenile. For 8 of the 10 strata, a random sample of jail jurisdictions was selected. For the remaining two strata, all jurisdictions were included in the sample. One stratum consisted of all jails that were operated jointly by two or more jurisdictions (referred to as multi-jurisdictional jails). The other stratum (referred to as certainty stratum) consisted of all jail jurisdictions that held juvenile inmates at the time of the 2013 Census of Jail Inmates and had an ADP of 500 or more inmates during the 12 months ending December 31, 2013; or held only adult inmates and had an ADP of 750 or more; or were located in California; or were known to be operating in 2015 but were not included n the 2013 Census of Jails. BJS obtains data from sampled jail jurisdictions by mailed and web-based survey questionnaires. After follow-up phone calls, the item response rate for jails that responded to the 2016 survey was nearly 97%. BJS implements nonresponse weight adjustment procedures to account for unit nonresponse and a weighted sequential hot-deck/cold-deck imputation procedure for critical items. See BJS website for questionnaires and additional metadata: Note: (1) Annual jail inmate estimates are subject to sampling error. The standard error for the percentage unconvicted was 0.45% in 2016. (2) Estimates for 2000-2014 were based on mid-year jail populations (typically June 30). Estimates for 2015-2016 were based on year-end prison populations (December 31). (3) Unsentenced state and federal prisoner counts exclude an unknown number held in privately operated facilities.
Date metadata updated March 2018
Disaggregation geography none
Unit of measurement Persons held in prison or jail
Disaggregation categories none
International and national references
Time period Yearend/midyear snapshot (based on inmates held in state and federal correctional facilities at yearend and local jail inmates on June 30, for years prior to 2015, or on December 31, for 2015 and 2016).
Scheduled update by SDG team

This table provides information on metadata for SDG indicators as defined by the UN Statistical Commission. Complete global metadata is provided by the UN Statistics Division.

Indicator name Unsentenced detainees as proportion of overall prison population
Target name Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all.
Global indicator description The total number of persons held in detention who have not yet been sentenced, as a percentage of the total number of persons held in detention, on a specified date. 'Sentenced' refers to persons subject to criminal proceedings who have received a decision from a competent authority regarding their conviction or acquittal. For the purposes of the indicator, persons who have received a 'non-final' decision (such as where a conviction is subject to appeal) are considered to be 'sentenced'.
UN designated tier 1
UN custodial agency UNODC
Link to UN metadata Link opens in a new window
Organisation Bureau of Justice Statistics/ National Prisoners Statistics and Annual Survey of Jails
Agency Staff Name Bureau of Justice Statistics (provided by Allen J. Beck, Senior Statistical Advisor)
Agency Survey Dataset Bureau of Justice Statistics/ National Prisoners Statistics and Annual Survey of Jails
Notes Appendix table 1. Number of confined inmates in local jails, by characteristic, 2000, 2005, and 2010-2016. Count of custody population – unsentenced, Corrections Statistical Analysis Tool (CSAT) - Prisoners,
Link to data source

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