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When it comes to the least peaceful states in America, the Bayou State is improving but remains in a class by itself, a new report finds.
Louisiana remains America's least peaceful state for the 20th straight year, according to the 2012 U.S. Peace Index. Louisiana has the nation's highest homicide rate, and is tied with five other states in having the highest incarceration rate as well.
"Louisiana is well above the national average on every indicator," the Index report says. "Furthermore, the gap between Louisiana and [second-least peaceful state] Tennessee is greater than any other gap between two states."
To determine the least peaceful U.S. states, the 2012 U.S. Peace Index assessed homicide, violent-crime, and incarceration rates, along with the number of police employees and the availability of small arms.
The 10 least peaceful states are:
9. South Carolina
The top 10 least peaceful states in 2012 are largely the same as 2011's list -- with the exception of Arizona, which entered the top 10 after showing the biggest decline in Peace Index factors. Alabama, which had been among the top 10 least peaceful states for the past five years, was pushed to No. 11 on this year's least-peaceful list.
But the news about America's least peaceful states is not all negative. The United States overall -- and even Louisiana -- saw declines in homicide and violent-crime rates between 2011 and 2012, according to the Institute for Economics and Peace, which produces the annual Index.