Special Report

America's Most Peaceful and Violent States

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35. Washington
> Violent crime rate: 312 per 100,000 (23rd lowest)
> Murder rate: 3.1 per 100,000 (19th lowest)
> Incarceration rate: 256 per 100,000 (13th lowest)
> 2018 poverty rate: 10.3% (9th lowest)

Washington has a relatively low violent crime rate of 312 incidents per 100,000 residents, compared to 381 per 100,000 in the U.S. as a whole. Yet while the U.S. violent crime rate dropped 3.6% from 2017 to 2018, Washington’s climbed by 2.9%. It was one of just nine states in which the violent crime rate increased from 2017 to 2018. All four kinds of violent crime — murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault — became more common.

Washington ranks among the most peaceful states in America in part because gun violence is relatively rare. The Northwestern state reported 10.4 firearm deaths per 100,000 residents in 2018, a lower share than all but a dozen other states.

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34. Wisconsin
> Violent crime rate: 295 per 100,000 (21st lowest)
> Murder rate: 3.0 per 100,000 (18th lowest)
> Incarceration rate: 391 per 100,000 (20th highest)
> 2018 poverty rate: 11.0% (16th lowest)

From 2017 to 2018, Wisconsin experienced one of the sharpest declines in violent crime of any state. While nationwide the violent crime rate fell from 395 incidents per 100,000 Americans in 2017 to 381 incidents per 100,000 in 2018, in Wisconsin the figure fell from 322 incidents per 100,000 to 295 per 100,000 — an 8.2% drop.

Property crimes fell by a similarly large magnitude. The incidence of property crime — which includes burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft — in Wisconsin fell from 1,811 per 100,000 in 2017 to 1,560 per 100,000 in 2018, a 13.9% decline. In comparison, the national property crime rate fell 6.9% over the same period, from 2,363 incidents per 100,000 Americans to 2,200 per 100,000.

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33. Idaho
> Violent crime rate: 227 per 100,000 (11th lowest)
> Murder rate: 2.0 per 100,000 (9th lowest – tied)
> Incarceration rate: 444 per 100,000 (12th highest)
> 2018 poverty rate: 11.8% (20th lowest)

Idaho has a lower violent crime rate than all but 10 states, at 227 incidents per 100,000 residents. This is due in part to the fact that robberies are very rare. Idaho’s robbery rate of 11.4 incidents per 100,000 residents is the second lowest of all states and a fraction of the nation’s robbery rate, which is 86.2 per 100,000 people.

Despite the relatively low occurrence of violent crimes, Idaho has one of the higher prison populations, with 444 incarcerated people for every 100,000 residents — most states have fewer than 375 per 100,000. It was also one of just a dozen states in which the share of residents that are incarcerated increased from 2017 to 2018.

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32. Virginia
> Violent crime rate: 200 per 100,000 (4th lowest)
> Murder rate: 4.6 per 100,000 (24th highest – tied)
> Incarceration rate: 429 per 100,000 (16th highest)
> 2018 poverty rate: 10.7% (11th lowest)

Virginia is one of the safest states in the country. In 2018 there were 200 violent crimes reported per 100,000 residents, the fourth lowest violent crime rate in the country and nearly half the U.S. rate of 381 incidents per 100,000 Americans. There were 183 burglaries per 100,000 Virginia residents that year, the third lowest burglary rate of any state.

While Virginia has one of the lowest violent crime rates in the country, the state has one of the larger prison populations relative to its size. There are 429 federal and state prisoners per 100,000 residents in Virginia, the 16th highest incarceration rate of any state.

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31. South Dakota
> Violent crime rate: 405 per 100,000 (18th highest)
> Murder rate: 1.4 per 100,000 (the lowest)
> Incarceration rate: 444 per 100,000 (13th highest)
> 2018 poverty rate: 13.1% (20th highest)

South Dakota reported just 1.4 murders per 100,000 residents in 2018, the lowest murder rate of any state. The state’s murder rate fell by more than half from the previous year. Yet the state still has one of the higher violent crime rates among states, with 405 incidents per 100,000 residents.

South Dakota reported nearly 70 rapes per 100,000 residents in 2018, the sixth highest rate among states. Its rate of 304 aggravated assaults per 100,000 was also well above the national rate.

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