Special Report

The Safest States in America

3. Wyoming
> Violent crimes per 100,000:
> Population: 584,153
> Total 2014 murders: 16 (3rd lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.2% (6th lowest)

States with below average poverty levels tend to have lower violent crime rates, and Wyoming is no exception. Roughly 11% of state residents live below the poverty line, one of the lowest poverty rates of any state in the country — and with less than 200 reported violent crimes for every 100,000 people, Wyoming is also one of the safest states in the country. Robberies occur very infrequently in the Equality State, where the rate is roughly one-tenth the corresponding national rate of 102 incidents for every 100,000 people.

Violent crime rates tend to be higher in major cities, where violence often drives up the overall state rate. Just like the two safest states in the country, Vermont and Maine, no cities in Wyoming have populations that exceed 100,000.

2. Maine
> Violent crimes per 100,000:
> Population: 1,330,089
> Total 2014 murders: 21 (5th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 14.1% (22nd lowest)

As is the case in other safe, relatively rural New England states, the absence of any major urban centers in Maine may help keep the crime rate as low as it is. Moreover, dense, crowded areas are far more vulnerable to violent incidences, and Maine is one of the nation’s most sparsely populated states. However, several of the state’s socioeconomic measures are not nearly as strong as in other safe states. The percentage of households receiving food stamps, for example, at 16.9%, is the sixth highest in the nation.

1. Vermont
> Violent crimes per 100,000:
> Population: 626,562
> Total 2014 murders: 10 (the lowest)
> Poverty rate: 12.2% (15th lowest)

Vermont is the safest state in the nation. Fewer than 100 violent crimes for every 100,000 people are reported each year, the lowest rate in the nation and a fraction of the national violent crime rate of 366 per 100,000. As in a number of other safe areas, relatively strong socioeconomic measures in the state likely help drive down the frequency of crime. Jobless and poor men with time on their hands, for example, are among the most likely perpetrators of crimes in the United States, and Vermont has had nearly the lowest unemployment rate over the last several years. Also, just 12.2% of individuals in the state live in poverty, one of the lower rates. But to the extent that financial instability and desperate situations can drive people to crime, Vermont’s relatively generous social services system may also help prevent some types of crime among low-income Vermonters.

Click here to see the 10 most dangerous states.

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