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On the Records: Prisoner Database Back Online

Today, we relaunch one of our most popular news applications: our database of all Texas state prison inmates, which we had pulled down to address inconsistencies in the state's record-keeping.

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Last week, we explained why we took down our Texas Prison Inmates database. In short, we learned from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice that a key metric used nationally to classify crimes committed by prisoners, the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) code, was entered manually by the agency's staff, and not always accurately. We decided to pull the database while we addressed the errors in the data we receive from the TDCJ.

Today, we are relaunching our prisoner database with the following changes:

  • NCIC codes are no longer associated with individual prisoners.
  • Our aggregate crime data — available both by county and by crime — no longer associates individual prisoners with specific crimes.

Our aggregate views, which do not refer to individual prisoners, still rely on the NCIC codes. That is the data the department uses for its own statistical analysis. Our review indicates about 3 percent of codes the TDCJ entered in the NCIC field were inaccurate, which is not unusually high for a dataset of this magnitude.

We have already started planning a full revamp of the prisoner database for later this year. Keep an eye out for more updates.

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