Special Report

America's Most Violent and Peaceful States

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10. Mississippi
> Violent crime rate: 285.7 per 100,000 residents (16th lowest)
> Murder rate: 8.2 per 100,000 residents (8th highest)
> Incarceration rate: 619 per 100,000 residents (3rd highest)
> 2018 unemployment: 4.8% (5th highest)

Mississippi is the only state to rank among the 10 most violent states with a lower than average violent crime rate. There were 285.7 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in Mississippi in 2017 compared to 382.9 per 100,000 nationwide.

Mississippi’s ranking among the most violent states is largely attributable to the high murder and incarceration rates. There were 8.2 homicides reported in the state for every 100,000 people in 2017, more than in all but seven other states. Additionally, there were 619 people in prison in Mississippi for every 100,000 residents, a larger share than in every other state except Louisiana and Oklahoma.

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9. South Carolina
> Violent crime rate: 506.2 per 100,000 residents (10th highest)
> Murder rate: 7.8 per 100,000 residents (11th highest)
> Incarceration rate: 386 per 100,000 residents (24th highest)
> 2018 unemployment: 3.4% (20th lowest)

South Carolina’s ranking among the 10 most violent states is largely attributable to its high violent crime rate. There were 506.2 violent crimes in the state for every 100,000 people in the state in 2017 compared to 382.9 per 100,000 nationwide. Violence in South Carolina is driven up partially by the higher than average murder rate of 7.8 per 100,000. Nationwide, there were 5.3 murders for every 100,000 people in 2017.

Other types of non-violent crimes are also relatively common. Only three states have a higher property crime rate than South Carolina. Property crimes include burglary, and these are the states with the most break-ins.

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8. Nevada
> Violent crime rate: 555.9 per 100,000 residents (5th highest)
> Murder rate: 9.1 per 100,000 residents (3rd highest)
> Incarceration rate: 451 per 100,000 residents (13th highest)
> 2018 unemployment: 4.6% (7th highest)

There were 16,667 violent crimes reported in Nevada in 2017, or 555.9 for every 100,000 people — a higher violent crime rate than in all but four other states. A near nation-leading murder rate helped drive up the overall violent crime rate in the state. There were 9.1 murders for every 100,000 people in Nevada in 2017, the third highest among states, trailing only Alaska and New Mexico.

Gun violence specifically is a problem in Nevada. There were 15.1 firearm related deaths — including suicides — for every 100,000 people in the last five years. Nationwide, there were 10.9 per 100,000. In 2017, Nevada was the site of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history. These are the 18 worst mass shootings in the U.S. since Columbine.

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7. New Mexico
> Violent crime rate: 783.5 per 100,000 residents (2nd highest)
> Murder rate: 7.1 per 100,000 residents (12th highest)
> Incarceration rate: 344 per 100,000 residents (22nd lowest)
> 2018 unemployment: 4.9% (3rd highest)

Along with Alaska, New Mexico is the only other state where violent crimes are over twice as common as they are nationwide. There were 783.5 reported incidents of violent crime for every 100,000 people in the state in 2017 compared to 382.9 per 100,000 nationwide. Other types of crime classified as property crimes are also common in the state. For example, New Mexico tops the list of states with the most break ins.

Crime is often more common in areas with limited economic opportunity. In New Mexico, 4.9% of the labor force was out of work in 2018, the third highest unemployment rate among states, trailing only Alaska and West Virginia.

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6. Alabama
> Violent crime rate: 524.2 per 100,000 residents (8th highest)
> Murder rate: 8.3 per 100,000 residents (7th highest)
> Incarceration rate: 486 per 100,000 residents (10th highest)
> 2018 unemployment: 3.9% (21st highest)

Alabama ranks among the most violent states not only due to the far higher than average violent crime rate of 524.2 per 100,000 people in the state, but also because of the prevalence of gun violence. There were 19.5 total deaths by firearm for every 100,000 people over the last five years and 10.3 suicides involving firearms per 100,000 over the same period. Nationwide, there were 10.9 firearms deaths and 6.6 firearm suicides between over that period. These are the 10 U.S. cities with the most gun violence — and one of them is in Alabama.

Alabama also locks up more of its residents than most other states. There are 486 inmates in Alabama for every 100,000 residents.

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