Special Report

America's Most Peaceful and Violent States

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50. Rhode Island
> Violent crime rate: 219 per 100,000 (9th lowest)
> Murder rate: 1.5 per 100,000 (2nd lowest)
> Incarceration rate: 158 per 100,000 (3rd lowest)
> 2018 poverty rate: 12.9% (24th highest)

Rhode Island ranks as the most peaceful state in America. It has the second lowest murder rate (after South Dakota) at 1.5 incidents per 100,000 residents, and the lowest rate of deaths by firearms in the country.

The state reported 219 violent crimes per 100,000 residents — well below the overall U.S. violent crime rate of 381 incidents per 100,000. Robbery, rape, aggravated assault, and murder are categorized as violent crimes. Rhode Island’s violent crime rate declined 6.4% from 2017 to 2018, the two most recent years for which data is available.

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49. Maine
> Violent crime rate: 112 per 100,000 (the lowest)
> Murder rate: 1.8 per 100,000 (6th lowest)
> Incarceration rate: 135 per 100,000 (the lowest)
> 2018 poverty rate: 11.6% (19th lowest)

Maine has the lowest violent crime rate of any state, at 112 incidents per 100,000 residents — just a fraction of the 381 per 100,000 violent crime rate in the country overall. Partially as a result, the state also has the lowest incarceration rate. Maine had just 135 federal and state prisoners per 100,000 residents in 2018, well below the U.S. incarceration rate of 448 per 100,000.

Maine has among the lowest rates of each different kind of violent crime — it ranks 6th lowest in murder, eighth lowest in rape, third lowest in robbery, and the lowest in aggravated assault.

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48. Connecticut
> Violent crime rate: 207 per 100,000 (5th lowest)
> Murder rate: 2.3 per 100,000 (12th lowest – tied)
> Incarceration rate: 252 per 100,000 (12th lowest)
> 2018 poverty rate: 10.4% (10th lowest)

Although Connecticut already had among the lowest violent crime rates in the nation in 2017, it experienced one of the largest declines in violent crime between 2017 and 2018. The state’s violent crime rate dropped 9.5% to 207 incidents per 100,000. For comparison, the overall U.S. violent crime rate dropped 3.6% during that same time.

Partially as a result, Connecticut also has one of the lowest incarceration rates at 252 people per 100,000 residents. The state’s murder rate of 2.3 incidents per 100,000 is less than half that of the U.S. murder rate.

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47. Hawaii
> Violent crime rate: 249 per 100,000 (14th lowest)
> Murder rate: 2.5 per 100,000 (16th lowest)
> Incarceration rate: 230 per 100,000 (10th lowest)
> 2018 poverty rate: 8.8% (2nd lowest)

Hawaii also ranks as one of America’s most peaceful states in part because there are relatively few firearms related deaths — just 4.0 incidents per 100,000 residents, the third lowest share of any state. Violent crime and poverty are highly correlated, so the lack of poverty may be one of the reasons the violent crime rate in Hawaii is so low. It has the second lowest poverty rate in the nation (after New Hampshire) at 8.8% and a violent crime rate of 249 incidents per 100,000, well below the U.S. violent crime rate of 381 incidents per 100,000.

Even though it was not considered in the index, Hawaii has a relatively high property crime rate. From 2017 to 2018, it was the only state to experience an increase in the property crime rate. Its rate increased 1.2%, as the nationwide rate of property crime fell 6.9%. Hawaii’s 2,870 property crimes per 100,000 residents is the ninth highest among states.

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46. Massachusetts
> Violent crime rate: 338 per 100,000 (25th lowest)
> Murder rate: 2.0 per 100,000 (9th lowest – tied)
> Incarceration rate: 145 per 100,000 (2nd lowest)
> 2018 poverty rate: 10.0% (8th lowest)

Though the violent crime rate in Massachusetts ranks towards the middle of all states, the New England state ranks as one of the five most peaceful states in the country. This is due in part to the state’s low murder rate of 2.0 incidents per 100,000 — less than half of the overall U.S. murder rate. Massachusetts also ranks among the least violent because of its relatively low share of firearm deaths, 3.5 per 100,000 residents, and incarceration rate, 145 per 100,000 residents, respectively. Both of those rates are the second lowest in the country.

However, Massachusetts does have a higher rate of aggravated assault than most other states. The state reported 249 aggravated assaults per 100,000 residents, in line with the overall U.S. rate.