Special Report

America's Most Dangerous States

The FBI recently released its annual Uniform Crime Report, and according to the latest data, there were 334 violent crimes reported for every 100,000 people nationwide in 2021. Violent crime is a broad category that consists of four types of the most serious offenses: robbery, rape, aggravated assault, and homicide. 

Historically, the UCR has provided crime statistics at the national level, as well as a comprehensive snapshot of crime in each of the 50 states. But this year, the picture is incomplete. 

To compile its annual reports, the FBI relies on state and local police departments to voluntarily submit crime data. While participation has never been 100%, this year it was especially low, largely thanks to a bureaucratic change. The FBI recently switched to a new crime-reporting system, known as National Incident-Based Reporting System, or NIBRS, completely phasing out its legacy Summary Reporting System. 

Many police departments have been slow to adopt NIBRS, and this has resulted in substantial data gaps. The latest FBI report excludes nine states due insufficient reporting: California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Pennsylvania. Whether or not 2021 crime estimates for these states will eventually be released remains to be seen. 

Still, the FBI’s latest report offers some useful insight into violent crime levels across the country in 2021 – and in some states, criminal violence is much more common than it is nationwide. 

Using violent crime data from the FBI’s 2021 UCR, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 15 most dangerous states in America. In each of the states on this list, the violent crime rate exceeds the national rate. We also considered the homicide rate – a component of the overall violent crime rate – in each of these states. (Here is a look at the states where the most murders are committed with a gun.)  

The largest share of states on this list are in the South, though there are also a handful of states in the West and Midwest. 

Violent crime is often more common in economically disadvantaged areas with high poverty rates and lower levels of social integration. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey shows that in the majority of the states on this list, the poverty rate exceeds the national rate of 12.8%. (Here is a look at the poorest town in every state.) 

Click here to see America’s most dangerous states.

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