Special Report

America's Most Violent States

5. Nevada
> Violent crime rate per 100,000: 562.1
> Pct. below poverty line: 15.9% (23rd highest)
> Pct. less than high school education: 16.0% (9th highest)
> Property crime rate per 100,000: 2,560.5 (19th lowest)

Nevada’s violent crime rate in 2011 has fallen significantly from its 2010 levels, when the state was the most violent in the United States with 702.2 violent crimes per 100,000 people. The number of homicides in Las Vegas fell 25% in 2011 to 86 — the lowest since 1990, even as the population more than doubled during that time. Robberies in Las Vegas were also down 20% in 2011 compared to 2010. Still, Nevada is far from being violent crime free. There were 157.9 incidences of robbery and 365.6 incidences of aggravated assault per 100,000 people, the third-highest and sixth-highest rates in the country, respectively.

4. New Mexico
> Violent crime rate per 100,000: 567.5
> Pct. below poverty line: 21.5% (2nd highest)
> Pct. less than high school education: 16.9% (7th highest)
> Property crime rate per 100,000: 3,531.5 (9th highest)

New Mexico had among the 15 highest rates in six of the seven types of violent and property crime reported by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report. The state ranked fourth for aggravated assault, and it had the third-highest murder rate in the country behind Louisiana and Mississippi. As of 2011, 7.3% of New Mexico adults had not finished the ninth grade, the third-highest rate in the country. Nearly 22% of residents lived below the poverty line, more than any state but Mississippi.

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3. South Carolina
> Violent crime rate per 100,000: 571.9
> Pct. below poverty line: 18.9% (9th highest)
> Pct. less than high school education: 15.9% (10th highest)
> Property crime rate per 100,000: 3,904.2 (the highest)

In 2011, South Carolina’s crime rate fell dramatically compared to the year before, when there were 670.8 violent crimes per 100,000 people — the second-highest rate in the nation at the time. Despite declines in violent crime, criminal activity remained a problem in South Carolina last year. Incidents of property crimes occurred at a nation-leading rate of 3,904 per 100,000 people. This was up from 2010, when 3,888.6 property crimes per 100,000 people were reported.

2. Alaska
> Violent crime rate per 100,000: 606.5
> Pct. below poverty line: 10.5% (4th lowest)
> Pct. less than high school education: 8.3% (4th lowest)
> Property crime rate per 100,000: 2,632.8 (23rd lowest)

Alaska does not share many characteristics with other violent states. It has the second-highest median household income in the country, as well as the fourth-lowest poverty rate. Nevertheless, Alaska had the nation’s highest rate of aggravated assault by a large margin last year, with more than 464 incidents per 100,000 people. There were also more than 58 reported forcible rapes per 100,000 people in 2011, the second-highest rate for such crimes in the nation, but down from 73.3 reported cases per 100,000 in 2010.

1. Tennessee
> Violent crime rate per 100,000: 608.2
> Pct. below poverty line: 18.3% (12th highest)
> Pct. less than high school education: 15.8% (11th highest)
> Property crime rate per 100,000: 3,595.9 (6th highest)

Although violent crime rate in Tennessee fell from 667.7 cases per 100,000 people in 2010 to 608.2 in 2011, the improvement was not enough to keep the state from becoming the most violent state, up two spots from last year. Tennessee had the second-highest rate of aggravated assault, after Alaska, with 444.5 incidences per 100,000 residents in 2011. Tennessee’s 5.8 murder and voluntary manslaughter incidences per 100,000 people was the 10th highest in the country. Memphis had the fifth-highest violent crime in the U.S. among cities with populations of 100,000 or more. While murder rates fell across the country as a whole in 2011, Memphis’ murder rate jumped 31%.

-By Michael B. Sauter, Alexander E.M. Hess, Samuel Weigley

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