Peace Index Ranks NJ Area Near Top [AUDIO]
The annual United States Peace Index ranked New Jersey 28th out of 50 for "peacefulness," defined in the survey as "absence of violence." Maine took the top spot. The survey was issued by the Institute for Economics & Peace.
Despite the Garden State's mediocre ranking, Edison-New Brunswick came in as the second-most peaceful metropolitan area in the nation.
The five indicators used for ranking peacefulness were homicides per capita, number of violent crimes, incarceration rate, number of police employees, and availability of small arms.
"Violent crime in Edison-New Brunswick only accounts for 7.8 percent of the total number of crimes. Newark has 16.7 percent...even though they have almost the exact same number of crime incidents," said the Institute's Michelle Breslauer.
Over the last 20 years of available Index data, New Jersey's peacefulness improved 15 percent. However, between the 2011 and 2012 Indices, peacefulness in the Garden State declined.
Breslauer explained, "New Jersey is slightly less peaceful, and that's mainly because homicide rates are increasing in New Jersey."
Violent crime, however, has dropped in New Jersey.
The Index also looked at the cost of violence - not only the price associated with policing and incarceration, but the economic impact to a region if a productive, tax-paying individual is put behind bars.
Breslauer said if the entire United States could reach the levels of peace registered in Maine, 274 billion dollars would be added to the economy.
If New Jersey were able to increase its peacefulness by just 25 percent, the state would see an added three billion dollars.
"The cost of the violence per taxpayer in New Jersey is 2,885 dollars," Breslauer noted.
The Index proved an old cliché: crime doesn't pay. It seems to do the opposite.