Skip to the content
Introducing the PbS Database for Researchers

National Juvenile Justice Data on Conditions of Confinement, Facility Practices and Youth Outcomes

The PbS Database for Researchers

Performance-based Standards (PbS) 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. PbS offers 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.

Researchers who apply between Nov. 15, 2021 and Jan. 15, 2022 may be eligible for up to $5000 in funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Participant map

Accurate, comprehensive, valid, reliable and timely

What is the PbS Database?

Performance‐based Standards (PbS) believes data is most valuable when it is used – then it becomes information that can change lives and transform systems. PbS is a 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 PbS 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 PbS’ data quality process is completed.

Arguably America’s largest updated source for juvenile justice data, the PbS 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, PbS 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.

PbS has worked since 1995 so that all juvenile facilities operated as if the next child coming is one of our own and we are interested in research that supports that vision. We want to know more about the practices and approaches that prevent justice-system involvement from further derailing young people from healthy adolescent development and create equitable opportunities and experiences so all young people have the best possible chances for success. A list of potential research questions is available. 

Incidents, Outcomes and Climate Surveys

What 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

Examples of PbS Data Contributing to Research

PbS Data in Action

PbS data addresses topics in the areas of safety, order, security, health, behavioral health, family and social supports, justice, programming and reintegration with the goals of making facilities safe, monitoring program effectiveness and achieving positive outcomes. Our datasets offer thousands of statistics about juvenile assessment, corrections and detention centers across the country.

The comprehensive and current database allows researchers to identify consistencies, disparities and trends related to ethnicity, gender and race, as well as facility location, region and type. Additionally, our data is relevant to conversations at the forefront of juvenile justice today, including positive youth development, family engagement, behavior management, confinement, mental health and, substance use services, trauma-informed care and reentry.

The findings of researchers from accredited institutions and a variety of disciplines—including criminology, law and legal studies, political science, psychology, social work and sociology—have led to positive change in practices and policies across the juvenile justice field.

Apply for Access

Prospective researchers must submit an application, including a research proposal, that will be reviewed by a committee. Applications are accepted continuously and are reviewed and approved on a monthly basis.

Learn More About the PbS Database for Researchers

Ask a Question

Are you interested in learning more about the PbS Database for Researchers? A member of the PbS Help Desk team will promptly respond to your message.