And the Most Dangerous State in the US is…

I know everyone is excited that CQ Press’ book entitled the “Most Dangerous States in America” is now available for just under $70. The rankings are based on scores derived from a formula that factors crime, arrests, and population numbers. The data is taken from the FBI's Uniform Crime Report (UCR) and analyzed. To coincide with this insightful publication, I think it is time for another multiple choice question.

According to CQ Press, 2009’s most dangerous state is:

A) California
B) New York
C) Nevada
D) Tennessee
E) Texas

If you answered A, B, D, or E then you are in for a big surprise. Yes, the Sagebrush State aka Nevada was named the most dangerous state in the research. I am sure families from Carson City to Las Vegas are already packing belongings and searching for houses in a much safer state like New Jersey (16) or colder but sparsely populated Montana (6).

Wait, maybe California has found an effective approach in reducing their crime rating: by taxing, boasting unbelievably high living costs, and otherwise annoying residents until they relocate to other states like Nevada.

After examining the rankings and their methodology, I had a few conversation points on this report:

--The UCRs are simply total crimes with little explanation as to the details of the crime. For example, aggravated assault (labeled an assault in the CQ study) is defined by the FBI as an unlawful attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury. Louisiana finished most dangerous for murders and second most dangerous for aggravated assaults.

How many aggravated assaults were domestic related? How many involved crack users fighting in the French Quarter? How many were the result of drunken fraternity initiations?

I have no idea, but if the typologies of aggravated assault were examined in relation to the rankings and: 1) You and the spouse are on good terms; 2) You are not living on the streets of New Orleans; or 3) You didn’t pledge a frat this semester, Louisiana will most likely not have as many aggravated assaults and therefore may not be as dangerous as presented.*

Also, since aggravated assaults that involve theft or robbery are classified as such, I would be more concerned with those crimes.

--Comparing state totals without recognizing the diversity between urban areas and non-urban areas is ridiculous. Are residents of Trenton, NJ safer due to their ranking as compared to persons from Pahrump, NV?

--In states, high crime areas are in the big cities. These violence issues are not reflective of the other thousands of communities in the state. Should all of Louisiana be frowned upon because of the violence that exists in New Orleans? Is Nevada receiving its most dangerous state label because of the sins (ouch, poor word choice) of Las Vegas?

--As mentioned above, the UCRs only capture reported crime and are not representative of actual crime. As such, it could be argued that the citizens of Nevada actually report a higher percentage of crime as compared to persons in New York or Virginia.

I’ll close with my thoughts on the publisher’s notes:

In previous editions, the terms “safest” and “dangerous” were used to describe the states with the lowest and highest rankings. These terms will no longer be used because perceptions of safety and danger are just that—the perceptions of the individuals who live in these communities. We want to emphasize that the analyses in this book are purely descriptive.

Translation: In previous versions of this report, we wanted to attract as many customers willing to pay $68 for our publication. Unfortunately, since someone noticed that we were misleading and this increases our organization’s risk for civil litigation, we decided to change our nomenclature. At least the media won’t read our press release closely and will still refer to states as dangerous.

At no time do we attempt to explain why there are differences between and among states.

Translation: We know that by providing some explanation as to why there are crime differences among states, we may have made this publication actually useful, but that would be too much effort considering the bargain price tag.

Such explanations are beyond the scope of this book but are currently being pursued by criminologists and other social science researchers.

Comment: Yes, criminologists and social science folks are researching reasons for differences in geographic crimes, but they avoid the aggregate state totals (FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports) used to compile this pristine publication like the plague.
In my opinion, there are much better purchases for $70 as opposed to buying this door prop.

*Note: I understand the publisher’s argument in that if they miss count everyone’s totals then the numbers might be comparable, but the numbers would fluctuate contingent upon multiple factors ranging from the likelihood of residents to report crime to investigative factors by police.


Anonymous said...

Who ever wrote this stupid because Louisiana whould be violent without N.O. you have Baton Rouge the were number 2 for murder you have shrevport they were ranked in the top 10 .Louisiana is just violent cause most people are very poor you have to getit how you live