• Presentation

Collecting Data from Incarcerated Subjects: Lessons Learned from Inmate Studies


Stutts, E. S. (2007, May). Collecting Data from Incarcerated Subjects: Lessons Learned from Inmate Studies. Presented at International Field Directors and Technologies Conference, Santa Monica, CA.


According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, there are currently over two million people incarcerated in federal and state prisons and jails across the country. Some survey research specifically targets incarcerated populations. Additionally, researchers conducting longitudinal studies often find that some sample members have become incarcerated during the data collection period. As a result, many researchers find themselves having to deal with the challenges of collecting data from incarcerated subjects.Conducting data collection in correctional facilities raises issues that are unique to those facilities. These issues include facility access, methodology considerations (including interview mode), security, and staffing concerns. In addition, because prisoners are considered to be a special population, there are additional Institutional Review Board considerations (including risk to subjects, coercion, and distressed respondent protocol).RTI has had to deal with all of these concerns in various studies that have been conducted in correctional facilities across the country. In the course of data collection, we have encountered a host of challenges including recruiting facilities for participation, coordinating logistics at those facilities, developing questionnaires that can be used by an incarcerated population, obtaining interviewer clearances, and negotiating the IRB clearance process. This presentation will share lessons learned from some of these studies.