The National Inmate Survey (NIS) collects information on sexual victimization self-reported by individuals held in adult correctional facilities. It is the only comprehensive vehicle to monitor the safety of people who are incarcerated. Prior iterations of the survey have included questions to identify LGBT respondents through the measurement of their sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).
LGBT people have higher levels of interaction with law enforcement and the juvenile justice system in adolescence and adulthood. Accurately identifying LGBT incarcerated people is critical in order to study and address differential rates of incarceration and victimization among that population. Without these data to shed light on individuals’ experiences, researchers and policymakers would have little knowledge about the sexual victimization of LGBT people in jails. These data are also vital for the monitoring and enforcement of safety provisions required under the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003.
Scholars provide research to support the continuation of efforts to identify LGBT survey respondents on the NIS, and they commend the Bureau for proposing a modified approach to identifying transgender respondents in this iteration of the survey. In addition, they provide support for collecting SOGI data in accordance with 2022 recommendations from an ad hoc panel of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine.