Special Report

Most Dangerous States in America

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30. Pennsylvania
> Violent crime rate: 313 per 100,000
> Total 2017 murders: 739 (5th most)
> Imprisonment rate: 810 adults per 100,000 (22nd highest)
> Poverty rate: 12.5% (23rd lowest)
> Most dangerous city: McKeesport

Home to 17.3% of the U.S. population and accounting for just 13.4% of all violent crime nationwide, the Northeast is the safest region in the United States. One of the most populous states in the region is Pennsylvania, and the state’s violent crime rate of 313 incidents per 100,000 is considerably lower than the national rate of 394 violent crimes per 100,000 Americans.

Not all parts of the state are safe, however. In cities like Chester, Darby, York, and the state capital of Harrisburg, there were more than 1,000 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents in 2017. In McKeesport, just southeast of Pittsburgh, the violent crime rate exceeds 2,000 incidents per 100,000 people.

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29. Wisconsin
> Violent crime rate: 320 per 100,000
> Total 2017 murders: 186 (23rd fewest)
> Imprisonment rate: 790 adults per 100,000 (24th highest)
> Poverty rate: 11.3% (19th lowest)
> Most dangerous city: Milwaukee

As its position on the list suggests, Wisconsin is safer than the average U.S. state but not by a significant amount. The state has slightly lower rates of murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault than the United States as a whole.

From 2016 to 2017, Wisconsin’s violent crime rate increased by 4.2% to 320 reported incidents per 100,000 people, one of the greatest increases of any state. The increase was largely driven by a 10% surge in the rate of aggravated assault.

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28. West Virginia
> Violent crime rate: 351 per 100,000
> Total 2017 murders: 85 (15th fewest)
> Imprisonment rate: 690 adults per 100,000 (21st lowest)
> Poverty rate: 19.1% (4th highest)
> Most dangerous city: Wheeling

No state reported a steeper decline in the number of robberies from 2016 to 2017 than West Virginia, at 27.2%. Robbery is a component of the violent crime rate, and the incidence of violence dropped from 363 incidents per 100,000 people to 351 per 100,000 over the same period.

Crime is often concentrated in densely populated urban areas, and in West Virginia, both the state capital of Charleston and the former state capital of Wheeling recorded violent crime rates above 1,000 incidents per 100,000 people in 2017.

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27. New York
> Violent crime rate: 357 per 100,000
> Total 2017 murders: 548 (12th most)
> Imprisonment rate: 480 adults per 100,000 (8th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 14.1% (16th highest)
> Most dangerous city: Newburgh

New York is the second most dangerous state in the Northeast, trailing only Massachusetts. Still, violent crime rates are falling in the Empire State. There were 70,799 incidents of violent crime in the state in 2017, down from 74,315 in 2016. The state’s violent crime rate of 357 incidents per 100,000 represents a 4.8% improvement from the previous year.

Crime is heavily concentrated in a handful of New York cities. Both Buffalo and Niagara Falls in western New York have a violent crime rate over 2.5 times the 394 per 100,000 national rate. Newburgh, located about 60 miles north of Manhattan has the highest violent crime rate of any city home to at least 10,000 in the state, at 1,236 per 100,000 — more than triple the national rate.

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26. Georgia
> Violent crime rate: 357 per 100,000
> Total 2017 murders: 703 (7th most)
> Imprisonment rate: 1,160 adults per 100,000 (4th highest)
> Poverty rate: 14.9% (11th highest)
> Most dangerous city: College Park

Georgia’s violent crime rate of 357 reported incidents per 100,000 residents is slightly below the U.S. violent crime rate. From 2016 to 2017, the state’s violent crime rate dropped by 8.5%, the third largest decline among states. A 20.4% drop in the rate of rape and an 18.0% decrease in the rate of robbery contributed to the overall decline.

Though Georgia’s violent crime rate is lower than the national rate, a relatively large share of adult residents are in prison. For every 100,000 adults living in Georgia, 1,160 are incarcerated. According to the Georgia Department of Corrections, 54.4% of inmates admitted in 2017 are serving a sentence of more than nine years.

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