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Public Safety Rankings

Measuring crime levels in each state

Downtown Des Moines, Iowa with the Pioneers of the Territory statue in the foreground.  The statue was made by Karl Gerhardt in 1892.

Browse Photos of the 50 States

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Public safety makes up 50 percent of the Best States for crime & corrections ranking. This subcategory evaluates both the violent crime rate and the property crime rate in each state, as measured by the FBI in 2016. Interestingly, less crime doesn’t always lead to less people in jail. Rhode Island and Pennsylvania both rank in the top-10 Best States for public safety and in the bottom 10 for corrections, the other subcategory used to determine the Best States for crime & corrections. Though some major cities, such as Chicago and Baltimore, have seen drastic increases in homicides in recent years, overall violent crime and property crime rates remain near historic lows.

A higher state ranking indicates a lower crime rate for these metrics. Maine toppled Vermon this year to become the Best State for public safety, with the lowest violent crime rate and fifth-lowest property crime rate in the nation. New Mexico retained its No. 50 slot for public safety. Severalof the bottom-10 states for public safety fall in the South, while half of the top 10 are in New England.

Best States for Public Safety

Public Safety Rank State Low Property Crime Rate Low Violent Crime Rate
#1 Maine ME 5 1
#2 Vermont VT 6 2
#3 New Hampshire NH 1 3
#4 New Jersey NJ 2 12
#5 Idaho ID 8 6
#6 Connecticut CT 9 5
#7 Virginia VA 10 4
#8 Rhode Island RI 11 8
#9 Wyoming WY 14 11
#10 Pennsylvania PA 7 22
#11 Minnesota MN 19 9
#12 Kentucky KY 20 7
#13 New York NY 3 27
#14 Massachusetts MA 4 28
#15 Wisconsin WI 13 20
#16 Iowa IA 18 16
#17 North Dakota ND 23 13
#18 Nebraska NE 21 17
#19 West Virginia WV 16 24
#20 South Dakota SD 15 32
#21 Ohio OH 25 18
#22 Mississippi MS 35 15
#23 Utah UT 39 10
#24 Michigan MI 12 38
#25 Illinois IL 17 35
#26 Oregon OR 40 14
#27 Colorado CO 32 23
#28 Montana MT 28 25
#29 Hawaii HI 43 21
#30 Kansas KS 30 29
#31 North Carolina NC 31 26
#32 Indiana IN 27 31
#33 Maryland MD 22 40
#34 California CA 24 36
#35 Florida FL 29 33
#36 Texas TX 33 34
#37 Georgia GA 44 30
#38 Washington WA 49 19
#39 Oklahoma OK 42 37
#40 Delaware DE 34 42
#41 Arizona AZ 41 39
#42 Missouri MO 36 43
#43 Alabama AL 38 44
#44 South Carolina SC 45 41
#45 Nevada NV 26 48
#46 Tennessee TN 37 47
#47 Arkansas AR 46 45
#48 Louisiana LA 47 46
#49 Alaska AK 48 50
#50 New Mexico NM 50 49

Low Property Crime Rate

Nationally, the estimated number of property crimes fell 1.3 percent between 2015 and 2016, though it is much more common than violent crime. The property crime rate is measured by the number of property crimes per 100,000 state residents in 2016, and includes burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft. Larceny accounted for just over 71 percent of all property crimes in 2016.

In the U.S., the property crime rate was an estimated 2,451 per 100,000 people in 2016. The rates were lowest in New England and the Mid-Atlantic, and highest in the Southwest, where there were an estimated 2,878 property crimes per 100,000 residents. New Hampshire ranked first in this metric with about 1,513 property crimes per 100,000 residents. New Mexico ranked 50th in this metric, with about 3,937 property crimes per 100,000 residents.

Low Violent Crime Rate

This metric evaluates the number of violent crimes per 100,000 residents. Violent crime includes murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, robbery, aggravated assault and rape, which includes attempted rape, but does not count statutory rape. Though the number of violent crimes increased 4.1 percent nationally between 2015 and 2016,the rate of about 386 violent crimes per 100,000 people is almost half the rate in 1996. Though murder and manslaughter experienced the largest increases in 2016, murder remained one of the least frequent violent crimes.

In Maine, which ranked first for this metric, about 124 violent crimes occurred per 100,000 state residents in 2016. Three other New England states boasted some of the lowest crime rates in the nation: Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut. In Alaska, which ranked 50th, there were about 804 violent crimes per 100,000 residents.