Special Report

Most Dangerous States in America

5. Nevada
> Violent crime rate: 541.1 per 100,000 people
> Total 2018 murders: 202 (25th lowest)
> Imprisonment rate: 584 adults per 100,000 (13th highest)
> Poverty rate: 12.9% (23rd highest)
> Most dangerous city: North Las Vegas

The number of violent crimes committed in Nevada in 2018 fell by 1.5% from 2017 to 2018. The state also reported near nation-leading declines in murder and robbery, 24.1% and 20.2%, respectively. Still, the state also reported a 22.8% increase in rape over the same period, the second largest increase among states, and its overall violent crime rate of 541.1 per 100,000 people is the fifth highest in the country.

North Las Vegas ranks as the most dangerous city in Nevada, with a violent crime rate of 966.1 per 100,000.

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Source: Gordon Incorporated / Wikimedia Commons

4. Arkansas
> Violent crime rate: 543.6 per 100,000 people
> Total 2018 murders: 216 (23rd highest)
> Imprisonment rate: 781 adults per 100,000 (4th highest)
> Poverty rate: 17.2% (5th highest)
> Most dangerous city: West Memphis

Despite a slightly larger than average 3.6% reduction in violent crime from 2017 to 2018, Arkansas ranks among the five most dangerous states in the country. There were 543.6 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in the state in 2018, far higher than the 380.6 per 100,000 national rate.

Arkansas’s violent crime rate is due in no small part to the concentration of violence in a handful of cities. For example, in Pine Bluff there were 1,609.2 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in 2018. In West Memphis, the most dangerous city in the state, there were 1,970.2 per 100,000.

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3. Tennessee
> Violent crime rate: 623.7 per 100,000 people
> Total 2018 murders: 498 (13th highest)
> Imprisonment rate: 553 adults per 100,000 (18th highest)
> Poverty rate: 15.3% (9th highest)
> Most dangerous city: Memphis

Tennessee has the highest violent crime rate of any state in the South and the third highest of any state nationwide. There were 42,226, violent crimes in Tennessee in 2018, more than double the number reported in Virginia, a state home to over 1.5 million more people than Tennessee.

Much of the violence reported in Tennessee in 2018 was committed in Memphis. The city accounted for roughly 30% of all violent crime in Tennessee and ranks as the most dangerous city in the state with a violent crime rate of 1,943.2 per 100,000.

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2. New Mexico
> Violent crime rate: 856.6 per 100,000 people
> Total 2018 murders: 167 (22nd lowest)
> Imprisonment rate: 448 adults per 100,000 (23rd lowest)
> Poverty rate: 19.5% (2nd highest)
> Most dangerous city: Gallup

New Mexico’s violent crime rate of 856.6 incidents per 100,000 people is the highest in the contiguous 48 states and second highest nationwide. There were 17,949 violent crimes reported in New Mexico in 2018, a 10.1% increase from the previous year and the largest increase of any state.

Crime tends to be higher in areas where large shares of the population are struggling. In New Mexico, which is one of only two states with a violent crime rate more than double the national average, 19.5% of the population lives below the poverty line

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Source: U.S. Air Force photo / Johnathon Green

1. Alaska
> Violent crime rate: 885.0 per 100,000 people
> Total 2018 murders: 47 (12th lowest)
> Imprisonment rate: 343 adults per 100,000 (14th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 10.9% (13th lowest)
> Most dangerous city: Anchorage

There were 885.0 violent crimes in Alaska for every 100,000 people in 2018, the most of any state and well above the national rate of 380.6 per 100,000. As is typically the case, aggravated assault accounts for the vast majority of violence in the state.

Rape, too, is especially common in Alaska. There were 161.6 rapes reported for every 100,000 people in Alaska in 2018, by far the highest rape rate of any state. Crime can tend to concentrate in areas that lack economic opportunity. In Alaska, 6.6% of the population was out of a job in 2018, the highest annual unemployment rate among states.

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