Special Report

Most Dangerous States in America

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15. California
> Violent crime rate: 449 per 100,000
> Total 2017 murders: 1,830 (the most)
> Imprisonment rate: 670 adults per 100,000 (19th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 13.3% (22nd highest)
> Most dangerous city: Susanville

There were more violent crimes committed in California in 2017 than in any other state. California is by far the most populous state in the country, and law enforcement agencies across the state recorded 177,627 violent crimes last year, about 14% of the total number recorded nationwide.

Even when adjusted for the population, the state’s violent crime rate, at 449 incidents per 100,000 people, is slightly higher than the average nationwide. Robberies are especially common in California. There were 143 robberies per 100,000 state residents in 2017, a higher rate than in all but three other states.

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14. Michigan
> Violent crime rate: 450 per 100,000
> Total 2017 murders: 569 (11th most)
> Imprisonment rate: 730 adults per 100,000 (23rd lowest)
> Poverty rate: 14.2% (15th highest)
> Most dangerous city: Detroit

There were 450 violent crimes reported per 100,000 residents in Michigan in 2017, far more than the national rate of 394 incidents per 100,000 Americans and among the most of any state. One factor contributing to the high crime rate in Michigan is the high incidence of rape. There were 7,301 rapes reported in Michigan in 2017, the second most of any state when adjusted for the population.

While violent crime is more common in Michigan than it is in the United States as a whole, property crime — which includes burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft — is less common. In 2017, there were 1,800 property crimes reported per 100,000 Michigan residents, far less than the national rate of 2,362 per 100,000.

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13. Delaware
> Violent crime rate: 453 per 100,000
> Total 2017 murders: 54 (12th fewest)
> Imprisonment rate: 880 adults per 100,000 (16th highest)
> Poverty rate: 13.6% (19th highest)
> Most dangerous city: Wilmington

Delaware has the 10th highest robbery rate in the country. For every 100,000 state residents, there were 113 robberies in 2017. Aggravated assault is also relatively common in Delaware. There were 301 reported incidents of aggravated assault in the state for every 100,000 residents in 2017, well above the U.S. aggravated assault rate of 249 per 100,000.

Though Delaware is not one of the safer states, it is improving. The state’s violent crime rate of 453 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2017 is 11.1% lower than it was the previous year — the second largest improvement of any state.

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12. Oklahoma
> Violent crime rate: 456 per 100,000
> Total 2017 murders: 242 (25th most)
> Imprisonment rate: 1,310 adults per 100,000 (the highest)
> Poverty rate: 15.8% (8th highest)
> Most dangerous city: Shawnee

There were 242 murders, 3,000 robberies, 2,142 rapes, and 12,550 aggravated assaults reported in Oklahoma in 2017. Adjusted for population, there were 456 violent crimes reported per 100,000 residents, far more than the national violent crime rate of 394 per 100,000.

While the relationship between income and crime is complicated, violent crime tends to be more common in poor areas with limited access to economic opportunities. In Oklahoma, the typical household earns just $50,051 a year, the eighth lowest median household income nationwide. Just 25.2% of adults have a bachelor’s degree, and 15.8% of the population lives in poverty — compared to the national 32.0% college attainment rate and 13.4% poverty rate.

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11. Maryland
> Violent crime rate: 500 per 100,000
> Total 2017 murders: 546 (13th most)
> Imprisonment rate: 610 adults per 100,000 (16th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 9.3% (2nd lowest)
> Most dangerous city: Baltimore

Maryland is one of just 11 states with a violent crime rate over 500 incidents per 100,000 residents. There were 9 murders for every 100,000 Maryland residents in 2017, the fourth highest murder rate in the country. The state also has the highest robbery rate in the country, at 185 reported incidents per 100,000 residents — nearly double the national rate.

Crime is often concentrated in densely populated urban areas. In Maryland, over half of all robberies and murders in 2017 were committed in Baltimore, the largest city in the state.

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