When it comes to the “spookiest” states — we’re talking criminals, not goblins and ghosts — look to the South or the center of the nation.
With Halloween upon us and with lots of recent chatter about crime — justified or not — I filled my trusty spreadsheet with data from six recent scorecards tied to crime and overall safety. Where should folks be worried?
The numbers — an average ranking — tell me the “scariest” place to live is Arkansas, which placed in the bottom 10 in five of the six rankings. It was followed by Texas. (Did I just say, “Texas”?) Then Alabama, Oklahoma and Montana.
The least-spooky places — what you’d otherwise call the “safest” states — on my consolidated scorecard were decidedly New England. No. 1 was Massachusetts, which made the Top 10 in three scorecards, then Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Utah.
California, with all six scorecards mashed together, got a mid-range No. 23 ranking, wedged between Virginia and Ohio.
Like I often say, rankings like these are part science, part art — so this is no definitive ruling. But here’s how California fared in this witches’ brew of yardsticks — and the spookiest and safest states for each …
Crimes per capita: California ranked No. 36 out of 50 states in the US News scorecard tied to FBI crime stats. Spookiest? New Mexico, Alaska and Louisiana. Least spooky? Maine, New Hampshire and Idaho.
Jailings: California ranked 20th on the Sentencing Project’s gradings based on incarceration rates, per capita. Spookiest? Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma. Minimally worrisome? Massachusetts, Maine and Rhode Island.
Law enforcement spending: Consumers Affairs’ tally of officers on the beat and dollars spent per capita found California with the seventh-highest outlays per resident. Spookiest lows? Idaho, South Dakota and Kentucky. Tops? Louisiana, Illinois, and New York.
Polling: Safewise surveys on crime fears placed California 23rd. Most spooked? Nebraska, New York, Arkansas, and Kentucky. Least scared: Oregon, Alaska and Minnesota.
Broad concerns: California ranked 21st in WalletHub’s look at safety issues from financial, transportation and personal — plus emergency preparation. Spookiest? Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Calmest? Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire.
Crime browsing: Anxiety levels should parallel online searches for “crime,” and Google Trends shows California with the 13th highest pace. Most spooked? Louisiana, Delaware and Wyoming. Least anxious? Hawaii, South Dakota, and Utah.
The full state-by-state results are mapped at bit.ly/spookystates.
Jonathan Lansner is the business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be reached at [email protected]
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