The FBI collection of statistics for rape, robbery, murder, and aggravated assault surprises us with a list of the top ten most dangerous states in the United States of America. Most people automatically assume New York, California, or Chicago would be in the number one spot, but the winner is the good old Volunteer State: Tennessee.
Home of three US presidents and the famous frontiersman Davy Crockett; Tennessee doesn’t usually evoke fear or thoughts of violence when planning a vacation or road trip. In aggravated assaults, though, Tennessee is number one on the FBI’s list and murders and robberies in the state were among the top ten highest. Memphis Tennessee is the city ranking fifth in crime, while Nashville came in at number 18.
Second on the list is the Sagebrush State, home of legalized prostitution and gambling: Nevada. Ranking among the worst for robbery, it also ranks incredibly high for forcible rape. This is not that shocking considering cities that house casinos, like Reno and Las Vegas, see swarms of tourists each year.
Alaska, The Last Frontier state, falls in at number three for most dangerous states. With a lower poverty rate and a higher level of education, it may seem a little contradictory that Alaska would be among the states with such a high crime-rate. However, the FBI’s statistics show that 79.7 per 100,000 residents is the forcible rape rate, which are the nation’s highest. While rape and assault numbers are high in Alaska, other crime rates are average. Forbes magazine, in a 2012 article titled The Most Dangerous U.S. Cities for Women, stated, “Anchorage suffers the highest violent crime rate in the state, (812 reported for every 100,000 residents) in addition to a staggeringly high incidence of rape.”
Number four on the list is New Mexico, The Land of Enchantment. A poor state known to many Americans as Taos, Santa Fe and Los Alamos (the nuclear laboratory); most don’t know it has one of the highest drug rates in the country. Drug use tends to lead to criminal behavior such as robbery, assault, rape, burglary, and murder, says the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. New Mexico’s violent crime rate is fourth worst in the country; the burglary rate is second worst. Former New Mexico legislator Dennis Kentigh wrote in the Albuquerque Journal, “We dare not pretend this does not have an effect on our economy or our overall quality of life,” when speaking about the devastating crime rates in the state.
The halfway mark; number five, gives us The Palmetto State, South Carolina. With an 18.3 percent poverty rate, South Carolina ranks ninth in the country. Crime is often perceived as a problem amid areas with high poverty levels and even with Boeing and BMW opening manufacturing companies in the state, creating jobs for many, it still has the fifth highest ranking for violent crimes. With a murder rate of 6.9 per 100,000 is the fifth worst in the country.
Delaware slides in at number six, though their nickname would have us believe otherwise. The First State residents may find it shocking to make number six on the list, but upon close inspection it is obvious that the poorest neighborhoods of Wilmington, Delaware’s largest city, bears the most crime rates in the entire state. The state’s aggravated assault rate of 342 per 100,000 was the eighth worst nationwide. Though it has a low poverty rate and one of the highest median household income rates in the nation, Wilmington’s crimes per 1000 residents is around 80 crimes annually.
Just behind Delaware comes the Bayou State at number seven. With a shockingly high murder rate: 10.8 per 100,000, Louisiana comes in first in the country. It is the third poorest state ahead of only Mississippi and New Mexico and continues to rate as one of the highest states for gun violence. 40 percent of the total murders hailed out of New Orleans and around 430 people were shot in 2012 in the city alone.
Florida, home of the stand your ground law and nicknamed The Sunshine State, comes in at number eight on the list. Many residents of the state believe the reason behind the high crime rates is due to the 2005 controversial law, but the reality is, crime has been dropping steadily in Florida for 20 years. Since 1993, rates have dropped an astonishing 43 percent. This drop hasn’t been enough, though to keep it off this list, putting it ahead of only a handful of states.
Maryland with its low poverty rate and high education rate seems an unlikely candidate for this list and, though the situation has recently improved, The Old Line State still carries a homicide rate of 6.3 per 100,000 in population- still seventh in the country. Baltimore seems to be the thorn in the side of Maryland with its own murder rate of 35 per 100,000.
Rounding out the top ten most dangerous states in the US is good old Oklahoma. Oklahoma City and Tulsa, the two largest cities, have struggled with poverty and gang issues. With a steep increase in forcible rape, FBI data shows 1,588 reported rapes, up 12.6% from 2011 and the most since 1994. The frequency of rapes per 100,000 residents reached 41.6 last year, the sixth highest rate in the country.
All of the numbers listed by the FBI are shocking and though many states are seeing better results than previous years, this country is still riddled with violence. Tennessee, the winner of The Most Dangerous States in America, will hopefully see a decline in crime in the years to come. A dream of many is to wipe out as much violence as possible to make this country safe for our children and grandchildren. The United States can dream of a country where violence is not so prevalent, because with dreams actions ignite. If the numbers continue to decrease each year, we are surely making progress.
An Editorial by: Amy Magness Whatley
Drugs and Crime