SHREVEPORT TIMES 04/26/12
By Kris Wartelle
The Institute for Economics and Peace released its annual peace index Tuesday, and Louisiana makes the bottom of the list again.
This is the second year the nonpartisan group has released the assessment, but according to IEP Vice President Michael Shank, the study tracked previous data and found that Louisiana has ranked as one of the most violent states for the past two decades. Maine has been named the most peaceful state for the past 11 years.
The ranking is based on five different factors, including homicide rates, violent crime statistics, the number of police employees, incarceration rates and the availability of small arms. Based on these parameters, Louisiana received an overall score of 4.05. Maine has an overall score of 1.31.
The second most violent state, Tennessee, fared better than Louisiana by nearly one point, with an overall score of 3.41. This is also the largest gap between state rankings found in the study.
According to the study, Louisiana ranked last for the number of homicides, is tied with five other states for last for the incarceration rate, and ranks in the bottom 10 for the number of violent crimes, the number of police employees, and the availability of small arms.
Other states listed as more violent include Nevada, with a score of 3.41; Florida, scoring at 3.36; Arizona, at 3.22; Missouri with 3.21; and Texas and Utah, which both scored a 3.20.
Under the same parameters, the same study ranked New Orleans as the second most violent city, with an overall score of 3.70. It is listed behind Detroit, which has a score of 3.87.
According to the study, the South, which consists of 14 states from Texas to Florida to Maryland, is the most violent region in the United States. The Northeast, which spans from Maine to Pennsylvania, was ranked as the most peaceful region.
The group’s website says the organization is dedicated to quantifying peace and measuring the economic impact and cost of violence in the U.S.
“The total cost of violence to the U.S. was conservatively calculated to be over $460 billion dollars while the lost productivity from violence amounted to $318 billion,” it states.
The organization says its mission to focus on peace as a way to improve human well-being in an economic way.
“The Institute for Economics and Peace is a non-profit research organization dedicated to shifting the world’s focus to peace as a positive, achievable, and tangible measure of human well-being and progress.”
Despite the findings, the study does find cause for optimism in Louisiana: both the homicide and violent crime rates have declined along with incarceration rates. A full report of the index can be found at www.economicsandpeace.org.