As noted in several places, these documents, put out by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), are generally intended for policy makers, practitioners, and the general public, especially "for gauging criminal justice efforts." As such, they are essentially press releases of criminal justice statistics gathered in various categories, e.g., jail expenditures, inmate demographics, women in prison, drugs and crime, recidivism, capital punishment, police, etc., mostly for the last five years. The full text of documents with tables may be obtained by writing the BJS Clearinghouse, Box 6000, Rockville MD 10850 or calling 1-800-732-3277.
The BJS documents are part of the United Nations Criminal Justice Information Network (UNCJIN), a collection of resources available through the gopher at SUNY-Albany and maintained by Dr. Graeme Newman. The original project to make this larger network available was funded by the U.S. government, but Dr. Newman notes that further funding is "dicey." This subset is usually updated monthly, although BJS sends reports irregularly.
The great limitation to these documents is that they are only browsable and the narrative representation of statistics is decidedly biased. Nevertheless, these reports may provide useful supplementary information for a speech class assignment or a starting point for a larger undergraduate or graduate student project.
Reference and Systems Librarian
December 22, 1993