Tennessee was ranked the most dangerous state in the US. The high rate of violent crime is blamed on poverty, lack of education, and segregation.
The list was compiled using the Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Report. In 2012, the state reported 41,550 violent crimes, including 388 murders. The worst crimes were reported in major metropolitan areas including Memphis and Nashville.
Tennessee’s ranking was based on violent crimes per capita. For ever 100,000 residents, 643 violent crimes were reported to the FBI. As reported by 24/7 Wall Street, aggravated assaults account for a majority of the violent crime.
The state also has one of the nation’s highest rates of poverty. More than 17 percent of residents are at or below the poverty level. Fewer than 25 percent have received a bachelor’s degree, and many never graduate from high school.
As reported by USA Today, segregation may also contribute to the problem. Urban Institute senior fellow John Roman explains that states with high levels of segregation provide fewer opportunities to succeed.
Roman said crime is most often committed by those who live in poverty. Tennessee’s ranking of most dangerous state could be caused by lack of opportunity.
While the statistics reveal an expected connection between crime and poverty, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report has received criticism. As each city must report the crimes, the statistics may be inaccurate.
Some crimes are never reported to the FBI, as jurisdictions often lack resources. Many crimes underreported by victims. The FBI acknowledges possible inconsistencies in the report, and advises caution when using the data.
Despite criticism of the Universal Crime Report, Roman said the list of most violent states is likely accurate. He said the list has remained fairly consistent for years.
Tennessee’s ranking as the most dangerous state may be surprising. However, national news often focuses on murder. Nationwide, violent crime has steadily declined since the early 1990s.
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