Special Report

America's Most Violent (and Peaceful) States

Source: Thinkstock

15. Florida
> Violent crime rate: 461.9 per 100,000 (11th highest)
> Murder rate: 5.1 per 100,000 (20th highest)
> Median household income: $49,426 (13th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 4.3% (21st highest)

Some 96.1% of murders and all other violent crimes in Florida occur in major metropolitan areas. The Tallahassee metro area’s violent crime rate of 769 incidents per 100,000 residents is more than double the U.S. violent crime rate.

A high incarceration rate further solidifies Florida’s status as a more violent state. There are about 755 people in Florida prisons for every 100,000 residents, one of the higher shares of all states and well above the 607 inmates per 100,000 U.S. rate.

Source: Thinkstock

14. Maryland
> Violent crime rate: 457.2 per 100,000 (12th highest)
> Murder rate: 8.6 per 100,000 (3rd highest)
> Median household income: $75,847 (the highest)
> May unemployment rate: 4.2% (23rd highest)

Following riots triggered by the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody, 2015 was a record year for murder in Baltimore, Maryland’s largest city. Baltimore high homicide rate drove the state’s murder rate significantly higher. There were 8.6 homicides in Maryland for every 100,000 residents in 2015, the third highest murder rate of all states.

Unlike most relatively violent states, gun ownership is not especially common in Maryland. Only 20.7% of people in the state live in households that own firearms, well below the 29.1% U.S. gun ownership rate.

Source: Thinkstock

13. Georgia
> Violent crime rate: 378.3 per 100,000 (24th highest)
> Murder rate: 6.0 per 100,000 (12th highest)
> Median household income: $51,244 (19th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 4.9% (7th highest)

Gun ownership is about as common in Georgia as it is across the country as a whole. An estimated 31.6% of Georgians live in gun-owning households, a slightly larger share than the 29.1% of Americans nationwide. Despite an average gun ownership rate, both suicides and homicides are far more likely to be carried out with a firearm than in most states. Some 64% of all suicides and 82% of murders were committed with a firearm, each among the highest shares compared to all states.

The incarceration rate is also high in state. There are 866 people incarcerated in a state facility for every 100,000 Georgia residents, the fifth highest share of all states.

Source: Thinkstock

12. Delaware
> Violent crime rate: 499.0 per 100,000 (8th highest)
> Murder rate: 6.7 per 100,000 (8th highest)
> Median household income: $61,255 (14th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 4.7% (13th highest)

Despite reporting the lowest gun ownership rate in the country, Delaware struggles with gun violence. About 83% of all murders in the state are carried out with firearms, the third largest share of all states. Additionally, there are about 5.5 handgun murders in the state for every 100,000 residents, more than in all but three other states.

Violence can be commonplace in prisons, and a large prison population is a further indication of a violent place. There are about 708 people incarcerated in state facilities for every 100,000 Delaware residents, one of the higher incarceration rates nationwide.

Source: Thinkstock

11. Arkansas
> Violent crime rate: 521.3 per 100,000 (6th highest)
> Murder rate: 6.1 per 100,000 (11th highest)
> Median household income: $41,995 (2nd lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 3.4% (14th lowest)

An estimated 19.1% of Arkansas residents live in poverty, the fourth largest share in the country. While the relationship between income and violence is complicated, individuals in 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 521 violent crimes reported per 100,000 Arkansas residents in 2015, far more than the national rate of 373 incidents per 100,000 Americans and the sixth most of any state.

Guns cause more deaths in Arkansas than in most states. In 2015, 16.9 in every 100,000 Arkansas residents were mortally wounded by a firearm, more than in all by 10 other states. Arkansas has the second highest gun ownership rate of any state.

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