Special Report

America's Most Violent States

Source: Flickr - Marshall Astor
For the fifth year in a row, the estimated number of violent crimes in the United States fell in 2011, according to the FBI’s latest statistics. The rate of violent crimes per 100,000 people dropped from 403.6 per 100,000 people in 2010 to 386.3 per 100,000 people last year.

Read: America’s Most Violent States

Despite the positive national trend, certain states continue to struggle with high crime rates. In many of these states, the rates of violent crime increased last year. In 2011, there were just 123.2 violent crimes per 100,000 people in Maine, the lowest violent crime rate in the country. In Tennessee, the rate was nearly five times higher. Based on the FBI Uniform Crime Report Program’s latest data, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 states with the highest violent crime rates.

The 10 states with the highest crime rates in 2011 were the same states found on the list in 2010, but their ranking has changed. Rates in all 10 states fell. Tennessee moved from the third most violent state in 2010 to the most violent in the country last year. In Nevada, which had the highest rate in the country in 2010, violent crimes fell from 702.2 to 562.1 per 100,000, moving it to fifth highest.

Many of the states that have the highest rates of violent crime suffer from poverty and low educational attainment. Five have among the lowest scores in both measures. However, it is far from a rule. Alaska, which has the second-highest violent crime rate, also has the third-lowest poverty rate. Maryland, which had the ninth-highest rate of violent crime in the country last year, also had the second-largest proportion of adults with a college degree.

Of the four types of violent crime, which include murder and non-negligent manslaughter (known as voluntary manslaughter), rape, aggravated assault, and robbery, aggravated assault is by far the most common. There were roughly 1.2 million cases of violent crime in 2011. Of those, more than 750,000 were cases of aggravated assault. Because this crime represents the majority of all violent crime, nearly all the states with the highest overall rates of violent crime also had the highest rates of aggravated assault.

Murders, on the other hand, accounted for just over 1% of violent crimes last year. In several of the states with the highest violent crime rates, murder rates were not higher than in the rest of the country. Alaska, which had the second-highest violent crime rate in the country in 2011, had the 26th-highest murder and voluntary manslaughter rate. On the other hand, five of the 10 states with the highest violent crime rates also had among the highest murder rates.

Based on the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 states with the highest rates of violent crime per 100,000 residents. Using the estimated populations and crime incidents from the UCR, which measured incidents of eight types of violent and nonviolent crime for 2011, 24/7 Wall St. calculated the incidence of the four types of violent crime per 100,000 persons for that year: murder/non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault. In addition to crime data, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed median income and poverty rates for these states from the U.S. Census Bureau for 2011.

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