Special Report

America's Most Violent and Peaceful States

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50. Rhode Island
> Violent crime rate: 232.2 per 100,000 residents (9th lowest)
> Murder rate: 1.9 per 100,000 residents (5th lowest)
> Incarceration rate: 170 per 100,000 residents (3rd lowest)
> 2018 unemployment: 4.1% (15th highest)

All six states in the New England region rank among the 10 most peaceful states, and of the six, Rhode Island ranks as the most peaceful — in the region and the country. Part of the explanation for the state’s rank is its low incarceration rate. There are just 170 inmates in state of federal prisons in the state for every 100,000 Rhode Island residents.

Violent crimes — a category comprising robbery, rape, aggravated assault, and murder — are also relatively uncommon in Rhode Island. There were just 232.2 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in the state in 2017, well below the 382.9 per 100,000 national violent crime rate, third lowest among states.

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49. Hawaii
> Violent crime rate: 250.6 per 100,000 residents (13th lowest)
> Murder rate: 2.7 per 100,000 residents (13th lowest)
> Incarceration rate: 240 per 100,000 residents (10th lowest)
> 2018 unemployment: 2.4% (the lowest)

Hawaii has the lowest rate of gun violence in the United States. Over the last five years, there were an average of three deaths by firearm discharge a year for every 100,000 people in the state, a fraction of the national average of 10.9 deaths per 100,000. Overall, violent crimes are relatively rare in Hawaii, as the state’s violent crime rate of 250.6 per 100,000 is well below the national rate of 382.9 per 100,000.

States with lower than typical incidence of violence also tend to have relatively strong economies, and Hawaii is no exception. Just 2.4% of the state’s labor force was unemployed in 2018, well below the 3.9% U.S. unemployment rate.

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48. Massachusetts
> Violent crime rate: 358.0 per 100,000 residents (25th highest)
> Murder rate: 2.5 per 100,000 residents (11th lowest)
> Incarceration rate: 120 per 100,000 residents (the lowest)
> 2018 unemployment: 3.3% (15th lowest)

Massachusetts has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, and the tight restrictions appear to be having a meaningful effect on gun violence. There were 3.2 deaths by firearm discharge in Massachusetts for every 100,000 over the last five years, well below the national firearm death rate of 10.9 per 100,000. The state also has the lowest suicide-by-firearm rate — which is part of the overall firearm death rate — of any state.

Massachusetts also locks up a smaller share of its residents than any other state, it has an incarceration rate of just 120 sentenced prisoners under state jurisdiction per 100,000 residents.

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47. New Jersey
> Violent crime rate: 228.8 per 100,000 residents (8th lowest)
> Murder rate: 3.6 per 100,000 residents (20th lowest)
> Incarceration rate: 217 per 100,000 residents (8th lowest)
> 2018 unemployment: 4.1% (15th highest)

Violence is relatively uncommon in New Jersey. The violent crime rate of 228.9 incidents per 100,000 people in the state is well below the national rate of 382.9 per 100,000. Rape, one of the four types of violent crimes, is particularly uncommonly reported. There were 16.7 reported rapes for every 100,000 people in New Jersey in 2017, the lowest of any state.

Violence tends to be less common in high-income areas with well educated populations. In New Jersey, the typical household earns $80,088 a year, about $20,000 more than the typical American household. Additionally, 39.7% of adults in the state have a bachelor’s degree or higher, well above the 32.0% national bachelor’s degree attainment rate.

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46. Connecticut
> Violent crime rate: 228.0 per 100,000 residents (7th lowest)
> Murder rate: 2.8 per 100,000 residents (15th lowest)
> Incarceration rate: 268 per 100,000 residents (14th lowest)
> 2018 unemployment: 4.1% (15th highest)

Connecticut is fifth least violent state in the country and the third least violent in the New England region. There were 228.0 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in the state compared to 382.9 per 100,000 nationwide. As is the case nationwide, the violence is more common in Connecticut’s cities. The vast majority of violent crimes in Connecticut — 94.6% — were committed in metropolitan areas. Slightly over 80% of the state’s population lives in metro areas.

Although the state was home to one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history, Connecticut has a relatively low rate of gun violence. Over the last five years, there were 4.8 firearm fatalities annually for every 100,000 people, less than half the national firearm death rate of 10.9 per 100,000.

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