Crime in the United States

For some 20 years, the Institute for Economics and Peace has been reporting on crime in the U.S., using its own measures of violent crime, incarceration, police manpower and access to small arms. For 20 years, Louisiana has been the most violent state. Arkansas this year was 43rd of 50 states, meaning it is close to the bottom of the list.When you view the most violent states, you’ll see that the bottom of the country is at the top of the list – Texas, Florida, Arizona, Louisiana, the southeast states. The Northeast states are the most peaceful. You might call this the Mason-Dixon effect, or the humidity factor. If Maine is frozen half the year, who wants to trudge around doing violent acts? But hot just makes you irritable, and is violence soon to follow?

The institute’s viewpoint on crime is interesting, but the reality is anyone anywhere at any time can be a victim of crime. No one wants to be a statistic, because by then everything’s over but the crying. (TDH)

Louisiana Most Violent State in the U.S.

Tennessee, Nevada, Florida and Arizona round out the top 5 most violent states in the U.S.

By Meg Handley

May 7, 2012

Looking for a peaceful place to visit this summer? You might want to re-route your road trip and steer clear of Louisiana.

According to a recent report from the Institute for Economics and Peace, Louisiana was ranked America’s most violent state for the 20th year in a row, based on homicide, violent crime and incarceration rates, as well availability of firearms.

Louisiana isn’t the only state that has issues keeping the peace. Tennessee, Nevada, Florida and Arizona rounded out the top 5 most violent states, with Arizona recording the largest fall.

Violence in America not only takes its toll on communities and families, but it’s a huge economic drain on the country. The annual tab for violence and its aftermath across America comes in around $460 billion, according to the IEP report, which includes costs for victims’ medical care and the prison system, as well as lost productivity.

The burden to taxpayers varies across the country: In Washington, D.C., the cost of violence is more than $7,100 per resident. By contrast, in Maine—the most peaceful state in the country, according to the study—the burden is around $1,280 per taxpayer.

The study goes on to say that if violence dropped to Maine’s level, almost $275 billion in extra economic activity would be generated, potentially fueling the creation of more than 1.7 million jobs.

But despite some states’ poor marks, nationally things haven’t been more peaceful since 1991.

“What the [report] shows is that over the past 20 years, America has become substantially more peaceful, witnessing a significant and sustained reduction in direct violence,” said IEP founder and executive chairman Steve Killelea in a release.

“Homicide rates in the U.S. have halved since 1991 and the violent crime rate has also fallen by nearly half during the same period.”

The top three states serving as poster children for peace in the U.S.—Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire—are clustered on the country’s east coast. Further west, Minnesota and Utah round out the top 5 most peaceful states.

Meg Handley is a business reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can reach her at and follow her on Twitter.

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