The Most Dangerous States in America

10. Oklahoma
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 469.3
> Poverty rate: 17.2%
> Pct. of population with bachelor’s degree or higher: 23.8%
> Property crimes per 100,000: 3,401.0 (9th highest)

The number of aggravated assaults in Oklahoma grew by 3.8% in 2012, while they increased just 1.1% nationally. The rate in 2012 came to 337.3 assaults per 100,000 residents, ninth highest among the states. The largest cities, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, have struggled with poverty and gang issues. Like many of the states with high crime rates, postsecondary educational attainment is low in Oklahoma. Only 23.8% have bachelor’s degrees or higher, one of the lowest rates in the country. Oklahoma reported a sharp increase in forcible rape in 2012. FBI data show 1,588 reported rapes, up 12.6% from 2011 and the most since 1994. The incidence of rapes per 100,000 residents reached 41.6 last year, the sixth highest rate in the country.

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9. Maryland
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 476.8
> Poverty rate: 10.3%
> Pct. of population with bachelor’s degree or higher: 36.9%
> Property crimes per 100,000: 2,753.5 (25th lowest)

Compared to the national trend, Maryland’s violent crime ranking should be lower. It has a low poverty rate and a high percentage of people with bachelor’s degrees or more. For the most part, the situation has improved recently. The number of violent crimes in the state has fallen for seven straight years. Crime in the city of Annapolis, for example, was up slightly in 2012 but is still at low levels not seen since the mid-1970s. There were 369 homicides in the state in 2012, down 7.5% from the year before. But the homicide rate — 6.3 per 100,000 in population — is still the seventh highest in the country. A big issue for the state is the heavy concentration of violent crime in and around Baltimore, the largest city. Baltimore’s murder rate — 35 per 100,000 — is the sixth highest in the country. A total of 217 murders occurred in Baltimore in 2012, up 10.2% from 2011.

8. Florida
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 487.1
> Poverty rate: 17.1%
> Pct. of population with bachelor’s degree or higher: 26.8%
> Property crimes per 100,000: 3,276.7 (15th highest)

Supporters of the state’s controversial “stand your ground” law, passed in 2005, believe it is the reason crime in Florida has been falling. But crime rates have fallen steadily for 20 years, dropping 43% since peaking in 1993. Reported rapes have fallen 28.5% since 1993, to levels last seen in 1979. There were just over 1,000 murders in 2012, up 2.5% from 2011, but the total is down 28% from a 1989 peak. High-school graduation rates have risen sharply as crime has dropped, hitting 74.5% in the 2011/2012 school year, up from 56.5% in 2003, according to the Orlando Sentinel. But it is still a laggard nationally, ahead of only a handful of states.

7. Louisiana
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 496.9
> Poverty rate: 19.9%
> Pct. of population with bachelor’s degree or higher: 22%
> Property crimes per 100,000: 3,540.6 (5th highest)

The stark reality of crime in Louisiana is reflected in its murder rate: 10.8 per 100,000. That is the worst in the country and 45% ahead of neighboring Mississippi, which has the second-highest rate at 7.4 per 100,000. Louisiana also has among the highest rates of violent crime and property crime, and the second highest rate of larceny-theft in the nation. The high crime rates are a reflection of the state’s high poverty rate. At 19.9%, it is the third poorest state, ahead of only Mississippi and New Mexico. Of the 495 murders in Louisiana in 2012, 193, or about 40% of the total, occurred in the city of New Orleans alone. Gun violence is prevalent in the city; some 427 people in New Orleans were shot in 2012, unchanged from 2011.

6. Delaware
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 547.4
> Poverty rate: 12.0%
> Pct. of population with bachelor’s degree or higher: 29.5%
> Property crimes per 100,000: 3,340.9 (13th highest)

Delaware cannot be proud that it had the sixth worst violent crime record in 2012. Most of that ranking is due to high crime rates in the poorest neighborhoods of Wilmington, its largest city. But that is not the only problem. Its aggravated assault rate of 342 per 100,000 was the eighth worst nationwide in 2012. Its property crime rate was fifth worst. The high rate may surprise residents, as Delaware is an outlier on many of the trends seen in high crime areas. It has a relatively low poverty rate, as well as one of the highest median household incomes in the country.

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