Maryland ranked second-most-dangerous state in nation

January 31, 1994|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Sun Staff Writer

In the category of dubious achievements, Maryland has a new distinction.

Maryland is listed as the second-most-dangerous state in the nation in a ranking based on key crime statistics compiled by a publishing company in Lawrence, Kan.

The only state that fares worse is Louisiana, which had the highest murder rate per 100,000 residents and the highest rate of incarceration, 478 people in jail per 100,000 residents.

And the safest place in the country? Vermont, said Scott E. Morgan, president of Morgan Quitno Corp., which issued its first crime survey yesterday. The most-dangerous-state ranking is derived from "Crime State Rankings 1994," a book that compiles crime statistics in 450 categories.

The company also publishes surveys listing the most-livable state and the healthiest state.

The danger survey determines the rankings by using 16 categories, including a state's violent crime rate, murder rate, change in the crime rate, juvenile arrests and incarceration rate.

Maryland's high ranking stemmed from having high crime rates -- the second-highest rate for robbery, the fourth-highest rate for violent crime -- despite high rankings in expenditures for police protection (fourth), incarceration rate (eighth) and police officers per 100,000 residents (seventh).

"In states like Maryland, where you spend a lot of money for police protection and have high incarceration rates and yet still have high crime, you have a problem there," Mr. Morgan said.

Morgan also noted that Maryland has two urban areas, Baltimore and parts of Prince George's and Montgomery counties bordering Washington, but the state does not have a large enough suburban and rural population to counteract it.

"There's nothing terribly wrong with it. It's just urban areas tend to have a lot of crime," Mr. Morgan said. "You don't have a lot of outlying counties to make up for it."

Mr. Morgan admitted his selection of the 16 categories on which he bases the rankings is open to discussion. The bulk of the book that lists state crime rankings is an objective presentation of how states rate in 450 crime categories.

For the "most-dangerous" list, Mr. Morgan takes 16 of those categories, counts 14 of them as negative factors, and two -- the percentage of all crimes cleared and the percentage of violent crimes cleared -- as positive factors.

"We make what is admittedly a very subjective decision as to what is a good thing and what is a bad thing as a way of showing how people can use those statistics," he said.

Mr. Morgan, who lived for many years in Washington and spent a lot of time in Maryland, said he was surprised to see the state ranked so high.

But he didn't advise his many friends here to load up the minivan and head to Vermont.

"I wouldn't get up and move if I lived in Maryland and I was happy," he said. Because he has so many friends living in Maryland, Mr. Morgan said he will probably be back to visit -- but he acknowledged many of them may be irked by the survey.

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