Special Report

America's Most Violent (and Peaceful) States

East Cleveland, Ohio
Source: Thinkstock

40. Ohio
> Violent crime rate: 284.9 per 100,000 (19th lowest)
> Murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate: 4.0 per 100,000 (25th highest)
> Median household income: $49,308 (16th lowest)
> June unemployment rate: 5.0% (19th highest)

In a perfectly peaceful society, there would be no need for law enforcement. While there is no corner of the country that qualifies as perfectly peaceful, Ohio has the smallest share of its population employed in law enforcement of any state in the country. There are only 110 people working as police officers, dispatchers, and other such jobs for every 100,000 state residents, less than half the national rate of 282 law enforcement workers per 100,000 people. Fewer police often indicate a lower than average crime rate. Indeed, murder, aggravated assault, and motor vehicle theft are less common in Ohio than across the country as a whole.

In many of the most violent states, certain major cities drive up violent crime rates. Not including Cleveland, only three of Ohio’s 10 major metropolitan areas have a higher violent crime rate than the nation as a whole.

Sunrise Over Crown Point at Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
Source: Thinkstock

39. Oregon
> Violent crime rate: 232.3 per 100,000 (11th lowest)
> Murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate: 2.0 per 100,000 (9th lowest)
> Median household income: $51,075 (23rd lowest)
> June unemployment rate: 4.8% (22nd highest)

In October 2015, a 26 year old student opened fire in a Umpqua Community College writing class, killing nine. Despite being the site of one of the deadliest mass shootings that year, Oregon is a relatively peaceful state. There are 232 violent crimes per 100,000 state residents a year in Oregon, far less than the corresponding national rate of 366 violent crimes per 100,000 people. The state also has fewer law enforcement employees per capita that the nationwide share. There are only 380 people employed in law enforcement for every 100,000 state residents, over 100 fewer than the corresponding national rate.

North Dakota, Farm, Tractor
Source: Thinkstock

38. North Dakota
> Violent crime rate: 265.1 per 100,000 (15th lowest)
> Murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate: 3.0 per 100,000 (19th lowest)
> Median household income: $59,029 (15th highest)
> June unemployment rate: 3.2% (5th lowest)

On the whole, North Dakota is one of the less violent states in the country. The state has one of the lowest incarceration rates in the U.S. at just 232 prisoners per 100,000 residents, lower than the national rate of 490 prisoners for every 100,000 residents. The state’s violent crime rate is below average as well.

However, gun violence is a greater problem in the state than in the nation as a whole. Approximately 57% of all suicides are gun related compared to a national proportion of 50.7%. The state’s gun suicide rate per capita of 10.6 is the 11th highest rate in the United States.

City of Bosie Idaho with modern buildings
Source: Thinkstock

37. Idaho
> Violent crime rate: 212.2 per 100,000 (7th lowest)
> Murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate: 2.0 per 100,000 (9th lowest)
> Median household income: $47,861 (14th lowest)
> June unemployment rate: 3.7% (10th lowest)

Violent crime is far less common in Idaho than it is across the country as a whole. There are only about 161 incidents of aggravated assaults for every 100,000 state residents, far less than the 233 such incidents per 100,000 people nationally. Furthermore, there are only 2.0 murders for every 100,000 people annually, less than half the national murder rate.

Skyline of Hartford Connecticut on a beautiful sunny day
Source: Thinkstock

36. Connecticut
> Violent crime rate: 236.9 per 100,000 (12th lowest)
> Murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate: 2.4 per 100,000 (13th lowest)
> Median household income: $70,048 (4th highest)
> June unemployment rate: 5.8% (9th highest)

Though the state was the site of the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, one of the deadliest and most horrific in U.S. history, Connecticut is a relatively safe state. More peaceful states tend to have higher educational attainment levels, and in Connecticut, a lower than average violent crime rate is partially attributable to the 38% of adults with a bachelor’s degree, the fourth highest share of any state in the country.

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