Special Report

The Most Dangerous States in America

Alabama
Source: Thinkstock

10. Alabama
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 472.4
> Total population: 4,858,979
> Total 2015 murders: 348.0 (19th highest)
> Poverty rate: 18.5% (5th highest)

For every 100,000 people in Alabama, 472 violent crimes were reported last year, the 10th highest rate in the nation. By contrast, 383 violent crimes were reported per 100,000 people nationwide. The incidence of violent crime is often closely tied to economic conditions. While unemployed individuals are not necessarily more prone to violence than employed individuals, economically depressed communities frequently report higher crime rates. Alabama’s annual unemployment rate of 6.1% is eighth highest of all states.

As is generally the case in the nation’s most dangerous states, high levels of violence in one or two urban centers account for much of Alabama’s crime problem. In Birmingham, 1,746 violent incidents were reported per 100,000 residents last year, third highest of U.S. cities tracked by the FBI.

Kansas City, Missouri
Source: Thinkstock

9. Missouri
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 497.4
> Total population: 6,083,672
> Total 2015 murders: 502.0 (11th highest)
> Poverty rate: 14.8% (21st highest)

After years of improvement, the violent crime rate rose by 3% nationwide last year, partly due to spikes in the country’s most dangerous states. In Missouri, nearly 500 incidents per 100,000 Missourians were reported last year, a 12.2% increase from the year before — the sixth largest of all states.

Violence is relatively common in densely populated cities. Of five major Missouri cities, only the Independence region reported a lower violent crime rate than the state as a whole. And one city, St. Louis, leads the nation in violent crime. A staggering 1,817 violent crimes were reported for every 100,000 people in the city last year.

Wilmington, Delaware
Source: Thinkstock

8. Delaware
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 499.0
> Total population: 945,934
> Total 2015 murders: 63.0 (14th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 12.4% (18th lowest)

A range of infractions are classified as violent crimes, and some are more common in some states than in others. Slightly more than 130 incidents of robbery were reported per 100,000 people in Delaware in 2015 — the fourth highest robbery rate of all states, despite declining by 3.9% from 2014. Meanwhile, the robbery rate increased by less than 1% nationwide.

Violent crimes are of course not the only types of crime reported in the United States. Property crimes, which are by far the most common type of crime, tend to be reported more often in violent areas. In the state with the eighth highest violent crime rate, however, this is not the case. The number of vehicle thefts in Delaware, for example, at 125 per 100,000 people, is lower than the corresponding national rate.