Special Report

America's Most Violent (and Peaceful) States

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45. Rhode Island
> Violent crime rate: 238.9 per 100,000 (8th lowest)
> Murder rate: 2.7 per 100,000 (13th lowest)
> Median household income: $60,596 (18th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 3.8% (14th highest)

While there were 386 violent crimes reported per 100,000 Americans in 2016, in Rhode Island there were 239 incidents per 100,000 residents. Like many states in the Northeast, Rhode Island has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. As evidenced by a low firearm suicide rate — a measure that is used to approximate handgun ownership — relatively few people in the state own handguns. Firearms are a factor in just 25.7% of all suicides in the state, the fourth smallest share nationwide. Rhode Island also has the fourth lowest incarceration rate of any state. For every 100,000 residents, there are 192 people in state correctional facilities. That is less than half the national incarceration rate of 450 inmates per 100,000 Americans.

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44. Connecticut
> Violent crime rate: 227.1 per 100,000 (5th lowest)
> Murder rate: 2.2 per 100,000 (7th lowest)
> Median household income: $73,433 (6th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 4.3% (6th highest)

Though it ranks as the most violent state in New England, Connecticut is far less violent than the nation as a whole. Connecticut has some of the strictest firearm laws in the country, including strict regulations on assault style weapons and permit requirements for carrying a handgun. Likely due in part to a restricted access to firearms, gun violence is relatively rare in Connecticut. There were 5 firearm-related deaths, including suicide, in the state for every 100,000 people from 2012 to 2016, less than half the national rate of 11 gun deaths per 100,000 over that time.

Violence in Connecticut is almost exclusively confined to the state’s metro areas. Over 94% of the 8,100 violent crimes in the state in 2016 were committed in a metropolitan area.

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43. Minnesota
> Violent crime rate: 242.6 per 100,000 (9th lowest)
> Murder rate: 1.8 per 100,000 (3rd lowest)
> Median household income: $65,599 (13th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 2.5% (6th lowest)

Minnesota is the least violent state in the Midwest. There were 243 violent crimes reported in the state per 100,000 residents in 2016, far less than the national rate of 386 incidents per 100,000 Americans and the ninth lowest of any state. There were 101 murders reported in the state that year. Those 101 murders amount to 1.8 per 100,000 state residents, which is the third lowest homicide rate of any state.

Wealthy states with better-educated population and low unemployment are often the least violent. The typical Minnesota household earns $65,599 a year, about $8,000 more than the U.S. median. Some 92.9% of adults in Minnesota have a high school diploma, and just 2.5% of the workforce is unemployed, respectively the third largest and sixth smallest shares nationwide.

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42. New Jersey
> Violent crime rate: 245.0 per 100,000 (12th lowest)
> Murder rate: 4.2 per 100,000 (23rd lowest)
> Median household income: $76,126 (3rd highest)
> May unemployment rate: 3.7% (17th highest)

New Jersey has some of the country’s strictest gun laws. These laws include restrictions on military style weapons and concealed carry as well as stringent background check requirements. Likely due in part to more restricted access, gun violence is relatively rare in the Garden State. About one in every four suicides in New Jersey were carried out with a firearm from 2012 through 2016 compared to half of all suicides nationwide. Overall, firearm deaths — including murder — are about half as common in New Jersey as they are nationwide.

New Jersey also incarcerates up a relatively small share of its population. For every 100,000 residents, the state sentenced 221 people to prison in 2016, less than half the U.S. incarceration rate of 450 per 100,000.

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41. North Dakota
> Violent crime rate: 251.1 per 100,000 (13th lowest)
> Murder rate: 2.0 per 100,000 (5th lowest)
> Median household income: $60,656 (17th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 2.2% (3rd lowest)

Since the early 2000’s, North Dakota experienced an oil production boom that led to higher incomes and lower unemployment throughout the state. While prosperity tends to coincide with reduced crime, violent crime rose sharply in North Dakota’s oil boomtowns over this period. The violent crime rate soared from 174 incidents per 100,000 North Dakota residents in 2006 to 251 violent crimes 100,000 residents in 2016, yet it remained below the national rate of 386 violent crimes per 100,000 Americans. In response to the spike in crime, the FBI opened in 2016 a fifth North Dakota field office in Williston, one of the state’s main oil boom centers.

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