Special Report

America's Most Peaceful and Violent States

Source: Andrew Renneisen / Getty Images News via Getty Images

40. New York
> Violent crime rate: 351 per 100,000 (25th highest)
> Murder rate: 2.9 per 100,000 (17th lowest)
> Incarceration rate: 239 per 100,000 (11th lowest)
> 2018 poverty rate: 13.6% (18th highest)

Although New York has a higher violent crime rate than about half of all states at 351 incidents per 100,000 residents, it still has a lower violent crime rate than the country overall, at 381 per 100,000. New York only outpaced the United States in one violent crime category — robbery, at 93.1 incidents per 100,000. New York ranks 10th among all states, well outpacing the nation, which reported 86 robberies per 100,000 residents.

New York ranks among the most peaceful states in part because firearm deaths are relatively uncommon there. Between accidental discharges, intentional self-harm by firearm, assault, and legal interventions, there were just 4.1 firearm deaths per 100,000 New Yorkers in 2018, the fourth lowest share among states. For context, just 10 states had fewer than 10 firearm deaths per 100,000 residents.

39. Nebraska
> Violent crime rate: 285 per 100,000 (18th lowest)
> Murder rate: 2.3 per 100,000 (12th lowest – tied)
> Incarceration rate: 280 per 100,000 (15th lowest)
> 2018 poverty rate: 11.0% (15th lowest)

The violent crime rate in Nebraska dropped 8.7% from 2017 to 2018, a larger decline than all but six states. Though the state’s murder rate increased slightly, to 2.3 incidents per 100,000 residents, that is still less than half the U.S. homicide rate. Nebraska’s rates of robbery and aggravated assault per 100,000 are also well below the national rate.

Despite this decline in violent crime, the Nebraska prison population grew more rapidly than all but two other states, increasing 3.4% to nearly 5,500 total incarcerated people. Still, it has a relatively low share of its residents in prison, at 280 people per 100,000, well below the 448 per 100,000 national share of incarcerated people. Nebraska ranked as one of the most peaceful states in part because it reported nine firearm deaths per 100,000 residents in 2018, making it one of just 10 states with fewer than 10 firearm deaths per 100,000.

38. Utah
> Violent crime rate: 233 per 100,000 (12th lowest)
> Murder rate: 1.9 per 100,000 (7th lowest – tied)
> Incarceration rate: 208 per 100,000 (7th lowest)
> 2018 poverty rate: 9.0% (3rd lowest)

Utah has a much lower violent crime rate, at 233 incidents per 100,000, than the country as a whole, at 381 incidents per 100,000. It also has a murder rate less than half that of the U.S. murder rate, at 1.9 homicides per 100,000.

Crime and poverty are highly correlated, and Utah residents are much less likely to struggle financially than the typical American. The state has a 9.0% poverty rate, lower than that of all but three other states. Utah also has the lowest share of households earning less than $10,000, at 3.9%.

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37. North Dakota
> Violent crime rate: 281 per 100,000 (17th lowest)
> Murder rate: 2.4 per 100,000 (15th lowest)
> Incarceration rate: 221 per 100,000 (9th lowest)
> 2018 poverty rate: 10.7% (12th lowest)

Though North Dakota still has a relatively low murder rate, no state had a larger percentage increase in homicides per 100,000 residents year over year. As one of the smallest states in terms of population, North Dakota recorded just 10 homicides in 2017 and 18 murders in 2018 — a 78.8% increase. Still, this equates to a homicide rate of 2.4 incidents per 100,000 people, less than half the national rate.

North Dakota’s violent crime rate is one of the lower shares among states, at 281 violent crimes per 100,000. Partially as a result, the state has one of the lowest prison populations per capita. The state’s 221 incarcerated people per 100,000 is less than half that of the U.S. prison share of 448 per 100,000.

Source: shalecia / Flickr

36. Oregon
> Violent crime rate: 286 per 100,000 (19th lowest)
> Murder rate: 2.0 per 100,000 (9th lowest – tied)
> Incarceration rate: 362 per 100,000 (25th lowest)
> 2018 poverty rate: 12.6% (25th lowest)

Though Oregon ranks among the most peaceful states, the violent crime rate is on the rise in the Northwestern state. With 1.8% more violent crimes reported per 100,000 residents in 2018 than in 2017, it is one of just nine states that experienced an increase in violent crime.

Still, violent crimes are relatively uncommon in Oregon. Its 286 incidents per 100,000 residents is well below the U.S. violent crime rate of 381 per 100,000.

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