National Database

The Center for Improving Youth Justice invites academics, researchers and students to access our comprehensive database to help us better understand the practices in juvenile facilities that result in positive outcomes.

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    Database for Researchers

    We offer a timely and comprehensive national database to address important research questions and increase the existing body of research on best and evidence-based practices. Committed to protecting the confidentiality of our survey respondents, prospective researchers must submit a research application.

    What is the Database?

    Performance‐based Standards believes data is most valuable when it is used – then it becomes information that can change lives and transform systems. The data comes from our continuous improvement program that provides participating agencies with aspirational national standards to guide practices and policies and standardized data definitions and collection protocols to measure the extent to which the policies and practices are put into place and their impact on youths, staff and families. After the twice-a-year data collection periods, coaches work with agency staff to analyze the results and develop structured action plans using a seven-step model to target specific outcomes for improvement. The results are available about two weeks later after our data quality process is completed.

    Why Use Our Database?

    Arguably America’s largest updated source for juvenile justice data, the National Database for Researchers offers comprehensive quantitative and qualitative data on facility life, practices, services and programs. Collected over 10 years and subjected to a rigorous quality check, the data spans more than 300 correction, detention and assessment locations in all parts of the United States. The data undergoes a multi-layered quality assurance process to ensure it is accurate, comprehensive and meets all definitional and reporting requirements.

    What Data is Available?

    The data reflects performance in the areas of facility safety, order and security; health, behavioral health, substance use, education and reentry services; connection with families, perceptions of fairness and staff-youth relationships. The database contains demographic variables that can be sorted, such as facility geographic location, size, type and gender served. The data has been organized into datasets available for the surveys listed below for multiple data collection periods beginning April 2010. Several surveys have undergone minor changes (e.g. addition of questions, changes of phrasing and tense). The differences are reflected in the datasets and are noted in a separate downloadable codebook. All datasets are presented in a standard Excel file format.

    The Administrative Form provides both general and specific information about each facility. One form is completed per facility per data collection. Questions range from numbers of youths and staff to types of assessments as well as the number of facility programs using volunteers.

    Each facility completes an Incident Report for any event or that may compromise the security of the facility or the safety of staff, youths or visitors. Approximately 6,500 Incident Reports are collected each data collection.

    Data collected includes:

    • Youths Involved
    • Staff Involved
    • Assaults/Fights
    • Restraints
    • Injuries
    • Medical Visits/Examinations
    • Isolation and Room Confinement
    • Segregation

    PbS Outcome Measures numerically express the change in status of the prevalence of an occurrence or in the rate or frequency of events and indicate the extent to which practices and policies are being implemented. Linked to the PbS standards, they offer facilities a way to assess how well they are meeting the standards and in what areas they need to improve. There are more than 100 outcome measures indicating performance in nine domains of facility operations and services:

    • Behavioral Health
    • Family
    • Health
    • Justice
    • Order
    • Programming
    • Reintegration
    • Safety
    • Security

    Twice a year, during April and October, all facilities administer the PbS Staff Climate Survey to 30 randomly selected direct care staff who are employed at the facility during the data collection. Approximately 5,000 surveys from staff are collected each data collection.

    The survey collects feedback from staff on:

    • Safety and Security
    • Training
    • Living and Working Conditions/Climate
    • Facility Programming
    • Staff-Youth Relationships

    Twice a year, during April and October, all facilities administer the PbS Youth Climate Survey to 30 randomly selected youths residing in the facility during the data collection. Approximately 4,000 surveys from youths are collected each data .

    The survey collects feedback from youths on:

    • Living Conditions/Climate
    • Understanding Rules and Rights
    • Facility Programs
    • Family Contact
    • Safety and Security
    • Staff 
    • Justice

    Database users can select a survey and timeframe to generate a codebook and dataset. Below are examples of rows that might appear in a Staff Climate Survey codebook and dataset. 

    Codebook – Each row corresponds to unique question text and indicates the variable, answer options, and survey versions associated with the question text.

    Pathways of Racial-Ethnic Disparities in Juvenile Corrections
    Family visitation, behavioral incidents, and staff safety: What changed in the COVID-19 era?
    Perceptions of Educational Reentry Preparedness among Detained and Committed Youth