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Most Dangerous States in America

24/7 Wall St. Logo By Sam Stebbins of 24/7 Wall St. | Slide 1 of 51: In the United States, violent crime is classified as aggravated assault, robbery, rape, and homicide. Nationwide, there were 397 violent crimes for every 100,000 Americans in 2016 -- up from 385 violent crimes per 100,000 in 2015. The uptick marked the second in as many years and the first time in a decade the U.S. violent crime rate climbed for two consecutive years.The recent increases in violent crime rates, however, pale in comparison to those of only a few decades ago. The U.S. violent crime rate climbed 40% from 1984 to 1991, when the crime rate hit a peak of 758 crimes for every 100,000 people.There has been widespread media coverage of recent alarming spikes in violence in a select few metropolitan areas -- in particular, Chicago. However, the recent uptick does not appear to be caused solely by rising crime in isolated pockets of the country, as the violent crime rate increased in 38 states from 2015 to 2016. Despite a widespread increase in violence in most states, some states remain far safer than the nation as a whole. In other states, crime rates are approaching -- or have in some cases have exceeded -- levels not seen nationwide since the early 1990s.24/7 Wall St. reviewed the FBI’s 2016 Uniform Crime Report to identify the most dangerous -- and the safest -- states in the country. Violent crime rates range by state from less than 200 to more than 800 incidents per 100,000 residents.Though the exact cause of the uptick in violent crime is unclear, some experts cite poverty as a possible explanation. Nationwide, 14.0% of Americans live below the poverty line. Of the 10 states with the highest violent crime rates, seven have a higher poverty rate greater than or equal to the nation as a whole. Meanwhile, eight of the 10 safest states have poverty rates below that of the U.S. as a whole.In almost every state, major metropolitan areas largely drive violent crime rates. Delaware, Mississippi, and Vermont are the only states that do not have metro areas that are more dangerous than the state as a whole. In Monroe, the most dangerous metro area in Louisiana and the country, there were 1,187 violent crimes for every 100,000 people, more than double the comparable statewide rate, which itself is one of the highest in the nation.The U.S. prison population climbed from about 1.5 million in 1994 to 2.2 million in 2017.But while the increase in nationwide prison population has coincided with the decline in violent crime rate, states with higher incarceration rates tend to also have higher violent crime rates. In Louisiana, the fifth most dangerous state, there are 1,019 state and federal prisoners for every 100,000 adults in the state, the highest imprisonment rate in the country. Maine, the safest state in the county, has the lowest imprisonment rate at only 163 inmates per 100,000 adults.Certain regions of the country appear to be more violent than others. Of the 10 most violent states, nine are either in the South or western United States. Meanwhile, New England states comprise half of the country’s 10 safest states.To identify the most dangerous states, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the number of violent crimes reported per 100,000 people in each state from the FBI’s 2016 Uniform Crime Report. The total number and rates of murder, nonnegligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, which comprise the violent crime rate, also came from the FBI’s report. Poverty rates came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 American Community Survey. Imprisonment rates are for 2015 and represent the number of people in state and federal correctional facilities sentenced to one year or more per 100,000 state residents age 18 and older, and are from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, a division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

According to crime statistics recently released by the FBI, the United States was a safer place in the first half of 2017 than it was over the same period in 2016.

The incidence of rape fell 2.4% from the first sixth months of 2016 to the first sixth months of 2017, robbery fell 2.2%, and aggravated assault was down 0.1%. Though the number of murders climbed by 1.5%, the overall incidence of violent crime nationwide dropped by 0.8%.

Regionally, the largest improvement occurred in the Northeast, where the number of violent crimes fell by 4.1%.

While the first half of 2017 was less violent than the same period in 2016, the most recent complete annual data is less encouraging. The annual U.S. violent crime rate rose in both 2015 and 2016 — the first consecutive two-year increase in a decade. In total, there were 397 violent crimes for every 100,000 Americans in 2016 — up from 385 violent crimes per 100,000 in 2015 and 366 violent crimes per 100,000 in 2014.

Whether or not the incidence of violent crime fell through the full 12 months of 2017 remains to be seen.

Regardless, crime in the United States remains far less prevalent than it was several decades ago. The annual violent crime rate climbed 40% from 1984 to 1991, when reported violence hit a peak of 758 crimes for every 100,000 people.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed the FBI’s 2016 Uniform Crime Report to identify the most dangerous — and the safest — states in the country. Violent crime rates range by state from less than 200 to more than 800 incidents per 100,000 residents.


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