The United States Peace Index, produced by Institute for Economics and Peace, found Cambridge, Massachusetts, the most peaceful metropolitan area and Detroit far and away the most violent.
The index analyzes peacefulness at the state and city levels by comparing five indicators: the number of homicides, number of violent crimes, the incarceration rate, number of police employees and the availability of small arms.
There were improvements in all indicators from the 2011 to the 2012 index which shows improvement for the nation as a whole. The national homicide rate decreased by 3.78 percent, the violent crime rate fell 6.03 percent and the total number of state prisoners fell by 0.6 percent, all good signs.
The following states made the list behind Maine as the most safe and peaceful places to be: Vermont, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Utah, North Dakota, Washington, Hawaii, Rhode Island and Iowa. On the opposite end of the spectrum behind Louisiana are the most violent states: Tennessee, Nevada, Florida, Arizona, Missouri, Texas, Arkansas, South Carolina and Alabama.
Maine had the lowest violent crime rate and Nevada had the highest. Maine also had the least amount of residents incarcerated, with Louisiana the highest — almost five times the rate of Maine, the index said. The disparity between the peaceful and violent states is stark according to researchers.
Mississippi also got special attention, though not for its peacefulness. Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Hawaii had the lowest levels of handgun availability. Mississippi, on the other hand, clocked in with the highest availability of small arms of any state in the nation.