Special Report

America's Most Violent (and Peaceful) States

Source: Thinkstock

45. Minnesota
> Violent crime rate: 242.6 per 100,000 (12th lowest)
> Murder rate: 2.4 per 100,000 (9th lowest)
> Median household income: $63,488 (12th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 3.7% (17th lowest)

Minnesota is one of many states with low poverty, high educational attainment, and low unemployment where violent crime is relatively uncommon and residents are less than half as likely to be incarcerated as the average American. There were just 243 violent crimes reported per 100,000 Minnesota residents in 2015, far less than the national rate of 373 incidents per 100,000 Americans.

Unlike in more violent states, Minnesota’s metropolitan areas do not drive the state’s crime rate significantly higher. While the Minneapolis-St.Paul-Bloomington metropolitan area is the most dangerous in the state, its violent crime rate of 286 incidents per 100,000 residents is far lower than the national average. In three of the five metropolitan areas in Minnesota — Rochester, Mankato-North Mankato, and St. Cloud — the violent crime rate is less than half the national figure.

Source: Thinkstock

44. Utah
> Violent crime rate: 236.0 per 100,000 (9th lowest)
> Murder rate: 1.8 per 100,000 (5th lowest)
> Median household income: $62,912 (13th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 3.2% (13th lowest)

There were just 236 violent crimes reported per 100,000 people in Utah in 2015, far less than the national rate of 373 incidents per 100,000 Americans. Prison populations tend to be lower in areas where crime rates are lower, and with one of the lowest violent crime rates, Utah also has one of the lowest incarceration rates of any state. Utah’s prison population has declined after the state passed the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, a package of criminal justice reforms that reclassified some non-violent felonies as misdemeanors. Today, 391 in every 100,000 Utah residents are incarcerated in state prisons, far less than the national rate of 607 inmates per 100,000 Americans.

While Utah has less violent crime per capita than the nation as a whole, violence against women in the state is relatively common. There are far more rapes and domestic violence homicides per capita in Utah than the nation overall, and law enforcement officials in the state are less likely to process rape kits than the average U.S. police officer.

Source: Thinkstock

43. Massachusetts
> Violent crime rate: 390.9 per 100,000 (18th highest)
> Murder rate: 1.9 per 100,000 (6th lowest)
> Median household income: $70,628 (6th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 4.2% (23rd highest)

Massachusetts has some of the strictest gun laws of any state. Massachusetts law prohibits certain semiautomatic assault weapons and requires gun owners to pass a number of background checks and complete a gun safety course. Gun violence is relatively uncommon in Massachusetts. Firearms are used in just 21% of all suicides in the state, less than half the 51% national figure. Additionally, there were just 1.2 gun-related homicides reported per 100,000 Massachusetts residents in 2015, the 10th least of any state.

Despite the lower gun violence in Massachusetts, there were 391 violent crimes reported per 100,000 residents in 2015, slightly more than the national rate of 373 incidents per 100,000 Americans. According to one of the state’s district attorneys, crime in Massachusetts is at a 41-year low.

Source: Thinkstock

42. Connecticut
> Violent crime rate: 218.5 per 100,000 (6th lowest)
> Murder rate: 3.3 per 100,000 (17th lowest)
> Median household income: $71,346 (5th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 4.9% (7th highest)

The typical Connecticut household earns $71,346 a year, the fifth highest median household income of any state. Just 10.5% of the population lives in poverty, the sixth smallest share. While the relationship between income and violence is complicated, individuals that are part of households below the poverty line are more than twice as likely to be victims of violent crime as residents of high-income households. There were just 218 violent crimes per 100,000 Connecticut residents in 2015, a lower crime rate than in all but five states.

Connecticut’s incarceration rate has been declining in recent years and is now at its lowest point in more than two decades. Today, 440 in every 100,000 Connecticut residents is in a state prison, less than the national incarceration rate of 607 prisoners per 100,000 Americans.

Source: Thinkstock

41. New Jersey
> Violent crime rate: 255.4 per 100,000 (13th lowest)
> Murder rate: 4.1 per 100,000 (22nd lowest)
> Median household income: $72,222 (4th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 4.1% (25th lowest)

Wealthier states are often more peaceful than poorer ones. Rounding out the list of the top 10 most peaceful states, New Jersey is another example of this pattern. The typical household in the Garden State earns $72,222 a year, more than the median income in all but three other states. Additionally, there are only 255 violent crimes — such as rape, robbery, and murder — for every 100,000 state residents, well below the 373 per 100,000 U.S. violent crime rate.

As is the case in many Northeastern states that rank as relatively peaceful, gun ownership is not especially common in New Jersey. Only 11.3% of state residents belong to households that own a gun.

Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.