TIME real estate

These Are the Safest States in America

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The list was compiled based on crime data, median household income, poverty rates, and educational attainment rates

This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247WallSt.com.

The number of violent crimes dropped across the United States by 4.4% in 2013 compared to the year before, according to estimates released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). In the last decade, the number of violent crimes declined by nearly 15%.

In a previous interview with 24/7 Wall St., John Roman, senior fellow at public policy research organization The Urban Institute said, “A 4.4% reduction in violent crime is astonishing. If you saw a similar increase in GDP, or a similar decrease in unemployment, it would be huge national news.”

The national improvement in crime levels has not been uniform across all states, nor were the resulting crime rates. While some states were relatively more dangerous despite the improvement, others were considerably safer than most states. In Vermont, the violent crime rate dropped by more than 19% in 2013 from 2012 — the largest reduction in the country. The state was also the safest, with 115 violent crimes reported per 100,000 people.

Nationwide, 368 violent crimes were reported for every 100,000 people in 2013. Such crimes include murder, rape, aggravated assault, and robbery. In six of America’s 10 safest states, there were less than 200 violent crimes reported per 100,000 residents. Based on violent crime rates published by the FBI’s 2013 Uniform Crime Report, these are America’s safest states.

Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter were especially uncommon in the nation’s safest states. Half of the 10 states reported less than two such crimes per 100,000 people last year, and the murder rates in all of the safest states were below the national rate of 4.5 incidents per 100,000 people. Similarly, aggravated assault rates did not exceed the national rate of 229 incidents per 100,000 Americans in any of the safest states. In three states — Kentucky, Maine, and Vermont — less than 100 assaults were reported per 100,000 state residents last year.

Not only were residents of these states relatively sheltered from violence, but other sorts of crimes were also less common. For example, nine of the 10 safest states reported less property crimes per 100,000 residents than the national rate of 2,730 property crimes per 100,000 Americans. Motor vehicle crimes in particular were especially uncommon. There were less than 100 vehicle thefts reported per 100,000 state residents in five of the 10 states, versus 221.3 such thefts per 100,000 people nationwide.

While explanations for the level of safety in a particular area are by no means concrete, socioeconomic indicators are powerful predictors of crime. Just as in large U.S. cities, income plays a major role at the state level in predicting crime levels. A typical household earned more than the national median household income of $52,250 in six of the 10 states last year. Kentucky households were the exception among the safest states, with a median income of less than $44,000.

People living in the nation’s safest states were also far less likely than other Americans to live in poverty. The poverty rate in all but two of the 10 states was lower than the national rate of 15.8% last year. New Hampshire, the sixth safest state, led the nation with just 8.7% of residents living below the poverty line in 2013.

Educational attainment rates are yet another factor contributing to violent crime. Lower levels of education result in lower incomes later in life, which in turn can contribute to higher crime rates. In addition, as Roman explained in a previous discussion at the city level, poor education is part of several structural disadvantages that make crime very difficult to address. According to Roman, addressing these underlying economic and social issues is critical to reducing crime. Unsurprisingly, residents in the safest states tended to be more highly educated. More than 90% of adults in seven of the 10 states had completed at least high school last year, versus the national rate of 86.6%. And while less than 30% of Americans had attained at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013, more than one-third of residents in four of the nation’s safest states had done so.

To identify the safest states in America, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed violent crime rates from the FBI’s 2013 Uniform Crime Report. Property crime rates also came from the FBI’s report. The data were broken into eight types of crime. Violent crime was comprised of murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault; and, property crime was comprised of burglary, arson, larceny, and motor vehicle theft. In addition to crime data, we also reviewed median household income, poverty rates, and educational attainment rates from the 2013 Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

These are the safest states in America.

10. Montana
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 240.7
> Population: 1,015,165
> Total 2013 murders: 22 (tied-6th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 16.5% (19th highest)
> Pct. of adults with high school diploma: 92.7% (3rd highest)

There were nearly 241 violent crimes reported per 100,000 residents in Montana in 2013, a third lower than the national rate. While the violent crime rate fell 5.1% nationwide between 2012 and 2013, it fell more than 13% in Montana. Low crime rates may be attributable to high levels of education. Nearly 93% of Montana residents had at least a high school diploma as of 2013, the third highest rate in the country. Despite the state’s relatively well-educated population, Montana struggled with poverty last year. The state’s poverty rate was 16.5% in 2013, one of only two of the safest states with a poverty rate above the national rate of 15.8%. This was likely due in part to the state’s large Native American population, which tends to be more impoverished.

Read more: States Where People Live Longest

9. Minnesota
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 223.2
> Population: 5,420,380
> Total 2013 murders: 114 (20th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.2% (7th lowest)
> Pct. of adults with high school diploma: 92.4% (4th highest)

Minnesota households had a median income of $60,702 in 2013, more than $8,000 higher than the national benchmark. Additionally, state residents were quite educated, as 33.5% of adults aged 25 and older had obtained a bachelor’s degree as of 2013, well above the 29.6% of adults nationwide. The strong socioeconomic environment likely contributed to the low violent crime rate of only 223.2 incidents reported per 100,000 residents in 2013. Overall, the state’s violent crime rate fell 3.3% despite incidents of murder and nonnegligent manslaughter increasing more than 14% between 2012 and 2013.

8. Utah
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 209.2
> Population: 2,900,872
> Total 2013 murders: 49 (14th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 12.7% (14th lowest)
> Pct. of adults with high school diploma: 91.5% (tied-9th highest)

Only 12.7% of Utah residents lived below the poverty line in 2013, more than 3 percentage points below the national rate. As in several other relatively safe states, Utah had one of the smallest income gaps between rich and poor in the country — relatively few residents lived on less than $10,000 a year and more than $200,000 a year. Despite low poverty rates and a relatively balanced income distribution, Utah was one of only a handful of states where the violent crime rate rose between 2012 and 2013, driven largely by a 10.7% increase in reported robberies.

For the rest of the list, please go to 24/7WallStreet.com.

TIME Crime

These Are the Worst States for Drunk Driving Prevention

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Montana and Rhode Island could be doing a lot more to combat drunk driving.

That’s the conclusion of a new report by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which ranks states by their attempts to crack down on people who drive under the influence.

The report finds that both Montana and Rhode Island have made little progress in requiring vehicles to be equipped with ignition interlocks for convicted drunk-driving offenders, setting up sobriety checkpoints, revoking licenses for previous offenders and issuing warrants for those who refuse to submit to a blood test or Breathalyzer.

(MORE: Why Police Aren’t Catching Drunk Drivers)

The only area where MADD found some progress in Montana and Rhode Island, both of which only received one star out of the group’s five-star system rating of state prevention measures, was in child endangerment laws that allow for additional penalties for drunk drivers who have a child as a passenger.

Thirteen states received five stars from MADD, many of which were in the South and Midwest.

Read the full report here

TIME Television

The Full House Crew Reunited for Dave Coulier’s Wedding

Cast members reunited at the Montana ceremony

Actor Dave Coulier’s Wednesday wedding doubled as a reunion for the classic ABC sitcom Full House.

Show creator Jeff Franklin and cast members John Stamos, Candace Cameron Bure, Andrea Barber and Bob Saget all traveled to Paradise Valley, Montana to see “Uncle Joey” tie the knot with photographer and producer Melissa Bring on Wednesday. Bure, who played DJ Tanner in the 80’s and 90’s sitcom, and Barber, who played Kimmy Gibbler, previously told Us Weekly they would be each other’s dates at the wedding—both their husbands stayed at home to watch the kids.

Full House, which aired on ABC from 1987 until 1995, followed the life of Danny Tanner (Saget), a widowed father who asks his best friend Joey Gladstone (Coulier) and brother-in-law Jesse Katsopolis (Stamos) to help him raise his three daughters after his wife’s death. Only the oldest Tanner daughter, Bure, attended the “reunion,” as Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen—who played the younger daughters—were not at the wedding.

The cast members who did attend, though, made sure to chronicle their adventures on social media. Franklin tweeted his feelings after he gathered the show’s leading men for a photo:

Barber and Bure—”partners in crime” as Bure calls them in this Instagram snap, which she posted today in honor of Barber’s birthday—clearly had fun in Montana.

So did Stamos, captured here by Saget while walking with a bench.

TIME justice

Montana Judge to Be Censured Over Rape Comments

G. Todd Baugh
Matt Brown—AP Montana District Judge G. Todd Baugh reads a statement on Aug. 28, 2013 apologizing for remarks he made about a 14-year-old girl raped by a teacher in Billings, Mont.

The Billings judge said a 14-year-old rape victim was “older than her chronological age”

A Montana judge will be publicly censured and suspended without pay for 31 days for saying a 14-year-old rape victim was “as much in control of the situation” as the 47-year-old teacher who raped her, the state Supreme Court announced Wednesday.

“There is no place in the Montana judiciary for perpetuating the stereotype that women and girls are responsible for sexual crimes committed against them,” Chief Justice Mike McGrath wrote in a court document filed June 4.

State Judge G. Todd Baugh, 72, drew criticism after he suspended all but 30 days of a 15-year sentence handed down to former teacher Stacey Dean Rambold, who was charged in 2008 with raping his 14-year-old student. The student committed suicide in 2010, before Rambold was convicted.

“Judge Baugh’s sentence and rationale, particularly his remarks that the 14-year-old victim was ‘older than her chronological age’ and ‘as much in control of the situation’ as her 47-year-old teacher, sparked immediate public outcry,” Justice McGrath wrote.

Baugh has been ordered to appear before the Supreme Court for public censure July 1. He plans to retire when his current term expires later this year.

TIME Obesity

These 10 States Have The Highest Obesity Rates

Man in spotted shorts on scale.
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In 2013, according to Gallup

Gallup reports today that Mississippi boasted the highest obesity rate in the United States last year, while Montana boasted the lowest.

10 States with Highest Obesity Rates
Mississippi: 35.4%
West Virginia: 34.4%
Delaware: 34.3%
Louisiana: 32.7%
Arkansas: 32.3%
South Carolina: 31.4%
Tennessee: 31.3%
Ohio: 30.9%
Kentucky: 30.6%
Oklahoma: 30.5%

10 States with Lowest Obesity Rates
Montana: 19.6%
Colorado: 20.4%
Nevada: 21.1%
Minnesota: 22.0%
Massachusetts: 22.2%
Connecticut: 23.2%
New Mexico: 23.5%
California: 23.6%
Hawaii: 23.7%
New York: 24.0%

(LIST: States with Highest Flu Rates)

Since the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index started tracking the obesity rate in 2008, Mississippi, West Virginia, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Kentucky have made the list of the top 10 states with the highest obesity rates, while Colorado, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and California have made the list of the lowest obesity rates. Indeed, southern and midwestern states generally boast the highest levels while northeastern and western states generally boast the lowest. Gallup also notes:

More than two in 10 adults were obese in nearly every state in 2013, with the exception of Montana. Three in 10 adults were obese in 11 states — Mississippi, West Virginia, Delaware, Louisiana, Arkansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Alaska — compared with only five states in 2012.

The polling company also wrote that in the 10 states with the highest obesity rates, residents are more likely to report that they have a chronic disease like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or depression.

The results are based on telephone interviews conducted between Jan. 2, 2013, and Dec. 29, 2013, and a random sample of 178,072 adults aged 18 and older living in the U.S. The margin of sampling error is generally ±1 to ±2 percentage points and can be as high as ±4 points in states with smaller populations.

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