Special Report

America's Most Violent (and Peaceful) States

Source: Thinkstock

20. Pennsylvania
> Violent crime rate: 315.1 per 100,000 (22nd lowest)
> Murder rate: 5.1 per 100,000 (19th highest)
> Median household income: $55,702 (21st highest)
> May unemployment rate: 5.0% (5th highest)

Although Pennsylvania’s gun ownership and violent crime rates are lower than the corresponding nationwide rates, the state is not among the most peaceful in the nation. It is the high incidence of homicide and incarceration that largely make the state a more violent place than most.

Some 655 people are in state prison for every 100,000 Pennsylvania residents compared to a nationwide incarceration rate of 607 inmates per 100,000 Americans. Additionally, there were 5.1 murders for every 100,000 people in the state in 2015, slightly higher than the 4.9 per 100,000 U.S. homicide rate.

Source: Thinkstock

19. Michigan
> Violent crime rate: 415.5 per 100,000 (15th highest)
> Murder rate: 5.8 per 100,000 (15th highest)
> Median household income: $51,084 (18th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 4.2% (23rd highest)

Michigan has the 15th highest violent crime rate and the 15th highest murder rate across all 50 states. As is the case nationwide, the vast majority of violence — about 9 in every 10 cases — occurs in the state’s metropolitan areas. The state’s violent crime rate is 416 incidents per 100,000 residents. However, in the metropolitan areas of Flint and Saginaw the violent crime rates are 580 and 606 incidents per 100,000 people. Detroit has the second highest violent crime rate of any U.S. city, with a whopping 1,760 incidents per 100,000 residents.

Source: Thinkstock

18. Indiana
> Violent crime rate: 387.5 per 100,000 (20th highest)
> Murder rate: 5.6 per 100,000 (16th highest)
> Median household income: $50,532 (16th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 3.2% (13th lowest)

About 1 in 3 Indiana residents live in a gun-owning household, one the higher shares of all states. As is the case in many of the states that report a higher than average gun ownership rate, guns are more likely to be used in both homicides and suicides in Indiana. More than 3 in every 4 murders in the state are carried out with a firearm, the tenth highest share among all states. Additionally, 53.7% of all suicides involve a firearm compared to the corresponding national share of 50.7%.

Indianapolis, the state’s capital and largest city, is one of the most dangerous of U.S. metro areas. There were 675 violent crimes per 100,000 people in Indianapolis in 2015, well above the 373 per 100,000 U.S. violent crime rate.

Source: Thinkstock

17. Arizona
> Violent crime rate: 410.2 per 100,000 (17th highest)
> Murder rate: 4.5 per 100,000 (25th highest)
> Median household income: $51,492 (20th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 5.1% (4th highest)

With about 800 of every 100,000 state residents imprisoned, Arizona has one of the highest incarceration rates in the country. The high incarceration rate is likely mostly due to both the state’s high non-violent crime rate, and the above average violent crime rate.

While it is not necessarily the case that high levels of law enforcement are indicative of higher violence, Arizona has one of the largest police forces among states, with 332 law enforcement workers per 100,000 people.

Source: Thinkstock

16. Texas
> Violent crime rate: 412.2 per 100,000 (16th highest)
> Murder rate: 4.8 per 100,000 (21st highest)
> Median household income: $55,653 (22nd highest)
> May unemployment rate: 4.8% (12th highest)

Some 3,203 people were killed by firearms in Texas in 2015, more than in any other state. The likelihood of gun deaths, accidental or otherwise, rises with the availability of guns. Nearly 36% of residents in the Lone Star State live in gun owning households, a larger share than the 29.1% national gun ownership rate. Across Texas, 58% of suicides and 71% of homicides are carried out with firearms, each among the larger shares of any state.

As is the case nationwide, approximately 9 in every 10 violent crimes in Texas occur in major metropolitan areas. In both the Lubbock and Odessa metro areas, there are more than twice as many violent crimes per capita than in the U.S. as a whole.

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