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A Primer for Death in Custody Reporting Act (DCRA) and Related Program Data Requirements

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2022
5 pages

This brief provides an overview of the Death in Custody Reporting Act (DCRA), its reporting requirements, and how they align with other federal programs that collect data on deaths that occur while being involved in the criminal justice system.



Congress passed the DCRA in 2000 to mandate the collection of data on deaths involving law enforcement processing while detained, under arrest, in the process of arrest, or while being transported to incarceration/detention. In 2013, in the wake of high-profile police shootings, Congress reauthorized the DCRA and expanded its requirements to include deaths of individuals in correctional Institutions. It also authorized the U.S. Attorney General to withhold 10 percent of a state’s Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) award for noncompliance. To date, the Attorney General has not exercised this discretion. Currently, the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) works with State Administering Agencies (SAAs) to achieve each state’s compliance with DCRA requirements. This brief focuses on the relationships and distinctions that will inform SAA staff on the requirements of each DCRA mandate. Since many states need guidance and strategies to improve reporting participation and accuracy, this brief offers suggestions based on state experiences. Suggestions discussed include 1) designating a staff point of contact to manage reporting efforts; 2) seeking partner agencies with data-reporting experience; 3) working with traditional and non-traditional partners; and 4) leveraging existing resources. 



Date Published: January 1, 2022