National Inmate Survey (NIS)

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National Inmate Survey (NIS)

Years Survey Included Sexual and Gender Minority
(SGM)-related Questions


Survey Description

The National Inmate Survey (NIS) is part of the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) National Prison Rape Statistics Program, which collects reported sexual violence from administrative records and allegations of sexual victimization directly from victims through surveys of inmates in prisons and jails and surveys of youth held in juvenile correctional facilities. The NIS gathers mandated data on the incidence and prevalence of sexual assault in correctional facilities. The survey was conducted in three iterations from 2007 to 2012. Currently, no information pertaining to further administration of the NIS beyond 2012 is available.

Survey Sample Population

In the third administration year (NIS-3), the survey was conducted in 233 state and federal prisons, 358 jails, and 15 special confinement facilities operated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. Military, and correctional authorities in Indian country. The survey was administered to 92,449 inmates age 18 or older, including 38,251 inmates in state and federal prisons, 52,926 in jails, 573 in ICE facilities, 539 in military facilities, and 160 in Indian country jails. The survey was also administered to juveniles ages 16 to 17 held in adult prisons and jails.

Survey Mode

The NIS was conducted in three iterations from 2007 to 2012 known as NIS-1 (conducted 2007), NIS-2 (conducted 2008-09), and NIS-3 (conducted 2011-12). The interviews, which averaged 35 minutes in length, used computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI) and audio computer-assisted self-interviewing (ACASI) data collection methods. For approximately the first two minutes, survey interviewers conducted a personal interview using CAPI to obtain background information and date of admission to the facility. For the remainder of the interview, respondents interacted with a computer-administered questionnaire using a touchscreen and synchronized audio instructions delivered via headphones. Respondents completed the ACASI portion of the interview in private, with the interviewer either leaving the room or moving away from the computer.

SGM-Related Survey Questions

Sexual Identity


Do you consider yourself to be heterosexual or ‘straight’, bisexual, or homosexual or gay?

‘Straight’, which is also called Heterosexual Bi-sexual
[If R is male] Homosexual or Gay [If R is female], DK, Refused] Homosexual, Gay, or Lesbian
Other (Don’t Know)
Question History: This is the only version of the question that has been used.

Sexual Attraction

There are currently no questions asked in this category.

Sexual Behavior

[If D3 “number of partners” NE 1 (no partners)]


Before you entered this facility, had you had sex with men only, women only, or both men and women?

Men only Women only
Both men and women

Question History: This is the only version of the question that has been used.

Gender Identity


Are you male, female, or transgender?

Male Female
Question History: This is the only version of the question that has been used.

Household Relationships

There are currently no questions asked in this category.

Response Rates

The overall response rate for the NIS survey in the third administration year (conducted 2011-12) was comprised of 61,351 jail inmates who participated in the survey, yielding a response rate of 61%. Approximately 90% of the participating inmates (54,137) received the sexual victimization survey. More information on the number of participating inmates in each jail facility can be viewed in the appendix section table 5 of the ‘Sexual Victimization in Prisons and Jails Reported by Inmates, 2011-12’ press release. Use the following to access the press release:

Additional Background

The National Prison Rape Statistics Program requires a statistical review and analysis of NIS data under the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA; P.L. 108- 79). Due to the sensitive nature of violent victimization and potential reluctance to report sexual assault, estimates of the prevalence of such acts do not rely on a single measure. Thus, BJS developed the National Prison Rape Statistics Program (NPRSP), a series designed to collect multiple measures on the incidence and prevalence of sexual assault. No data collection existed that could be used to fully respond to the requirements in PREA. BJS, with the aid of correctional practitioners, researchers, and special interest groups, developed, tested, and revised each collection prior to full national implementation. For these reasons, the data collections were rolled out consecutively rather than concurrently.

Survey Links


The survey questionnaires can be located by navigating through main BJS website by selecting ‘Data Collections’ on the menu bar, then select ‘View By Topic’ then select ‘Corrections’ and then scroll down to ‘National Inmate Survey (NIS)’. The questionnaires are organized by year and categorized by paper and pencil instruments for both males and females. Use the following link to access the most recent questionnaires:


Data are not available.


Allen J. Beck, Ph.D., Bureau of Justice Statistics, Marcus Berzofsky, Dr.P.H., Rachel Caspar, Christopher Krebs, Ph.D., RTI International. Sexual Victimization in Prisons and Jails Reported by Inmates, 2011-12. May 16, 2013 NCJ 241399

December 2014 Update:

Bureau of Justice Statistics. Data Collection Detail. Office of Justice Programs. (2016).

National Archive of Criminal Justice Data. United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. Bureau of Justice Statistics. (2016).


2008 – 2009

2011 – 2012

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Page Last Modified:
12/08/2017 10:34 AM