From sea to shining sea, the United States of America is a land of rich cultural and geographic diversity. There are sandy beaches, soaring mountain peaks, fertile plains of grain and among them all there exists crime. Wherever humans are present, crime seems to follow. However, the actual crime rates vary wildly from state to state. Below you will see a set of data that attempts to bring light to the nation’s struggle with crime by showing how various states are affected by crime.
The above map attempts to plot and convey the variances in violent crime among all 50 states. The data points shown represent the incidents of violent crime in each state per 100,000 residents. This is important as more populous states like California, Texas, and New York would have a higher total number of violent crimes. However, when matched against their population one can actually gain a clear picture of that state’s struggle with crime. A perfect example would be to look at the state of Tennessee. With a population of around 6,770,000, Tennessee is hardly the most populous state in the union. Yet, with a crime rate of 623.7 incidents of violent crime per 100,000 residents it is one of the more dangerous places to live or visit.
In this particular graph, one can see the top ten most dangerous states in America as evidenced by their violent crime rate per 100,000 residents. The District of Columbia and Alaska lead the way when it comes to violent crime and the two geographic regions could not be more different. D.C. is a populous urban environment whereas Alaska is the last great American frontier. They are similar in population size, but the factors driving violent crime are likely very different. Meanwhile, five southern states make their presence on the top ten list which could offer some insight into that region’s struggle with violent crime.
This graph breaks the data down into a little more detail by organizing violent crime into the four major categories of murder, rape, robbery and assault. As expected, the top 10 violent states are represented here with high numbers. However, there are some significant outliers among each. As an example, Alaska has the second highest violent crime rate in the United States. Yet looking at it in more detail one can see that Alaska witnesses incidents of rape at a pace of 161.6 incidents per 100,000 residents. This is a rate over twice that of the closest state and more than 4 to 5 times higher than most other states in the nation. Meanwhile, with a muder rate of 22.8 incidents per 100,000 residents, it is clear that the District of Columbia has a unique and prevelant problem with murder.
Breaking the data down into more detail, one can begin to see that certain cities are often the primary drivers for their state’s violent crime rate. Tennessee has the fourth highest violent crime rate in the nation and that is due, in large part, to the city of Memphis contributing a violent crime rate of 1,943.19 incidents per 100,000 residents. That is enough to secure the 2nd spot among the nation’s most dangerous cities and helped secure Tennessee’s spot among the most violent states. Meanwhile, the state of Michigan doesn’t crack the top ten, but Detroit leads the way as the nation’s most violent city with a rate of 2,007.82 incidents per 100,000 residents.
Property crime is a crime that is committed for the purpose of obtaining money or something of value. This includes incidents such as burglary, theft and motor vehicle theft. This graph shows the number of incidents by state per 100,000 residents. Once again, the District of Columbia leads the way when it comes to property crime among the nation. Geographically, it is worth noting that the New England region of the country seems to have less of a struggle with property crime than other regions.
Here on the top ten list for property crimes, one will see some familiar names. The District of Columbia, New Mexico, Alaska, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Arkansas all show up on the top ten violent crime lists as well as here with property crime. However, when it comes to property there are new states whose primary problem with crime appears to be property crime. Washington, Oregon, Oklahoma, and Hawaii are all new to this top ten list.
This grid breaks down all 50 states and the District of Columbia into the three major types of property crime which includes burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft. As expected, states with an appearance in the top ten list have consistently high numbers. However, there are other states that have unique problems with a particular type of property crime. New Mexico holds the top spot for burglary with an incident rate of 767.8 incidents per 100,000 residents. The District of Columbia leads the way on incidents of theft with 3,750.1 incidents per 100,000 residents and Alaska takes the lead on motor vehicle thefts with 541.9 incidents per 100,000 residents.
Here we get a closer look at property crime by city which offers more insight as to why some states have a higher property crime rate than others. The numbers you see on the graph represent the incidents of property crime per 100,000 residents. As with violent crime, incidences in larger cities can continue to drive the numbers. Spokane, Washington does not come close to the top of the list when it comes to violent crime and yet, it sits atop of the list for property crime. This is a major driver as to why Washington is thrust into the top ten list of states when it comes to property crime. Meanwhile, cities like Memphis, Little Rock and St. Louis all make an appearance on both lists.
Bringing all the data together, we are left with the following comprehensive map that combines both violent and property crime to gain a clear picture of the total number of crimes per state. As expected by on the prior data, the District of Columbia, Alaska, and New Mexico lead the way in total crime. The Northeast portion of New England continues to have the lowest crime rate of any geographic region.
Finally, we have a graph that shows the proportion of each type of crime that makes up the total number of violent and property crimes in America. Assault is by far the largest type of violent crime that takes place across the nation while larceny-theft is the most common type of property crime. Murder, for all its horror, is actually the most infrequent type of violent crime. With all this information together, one can walk away with a clear view on crime in America.
Crime is a problem in America, regardless of which state or geographic region in which one lives. However, some regions and states struggle more than others as evidenced by the above sets of data. It is also true that total state crime numbers are often driven by one two particularly problematic cities struggling with crime. One can reach a variety of conclusions as to the reasons why, but the facts above are simply cold hard truths today.
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