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10 Most Dangerous Cities in Mississippi (2024 Update)

aerial view of Mississippi River

Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.

Mississippi is a state of southern charm, most commonly known for its bluegrass music, magnolias, and southern-style cuisine. Unfortunately, it’s also a leader in poverty, unemployment, and a lower life expectancy.

Those things might make you think it’s high in crime, but it’s only a bit higher than the national average. Let’s take a peek at some of the biggest hotbeds of crime in the Magnolia State.

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The 10 Most Dangerous Cities in Mississippi: A Quick Look

1. Jackson, MS

Jackson, Mississippi cityscape
Image Credit: Sean Pavone, Shutterstock
Population: 166,383
Murder rate: 97.6 per 100k people
Violent crime rate: 693.9 per 100k people
Poverty rate: 42,261 (25.4%)
Average household income: $38,888

Lying along the Pearl River, Jackson is an example of an American city run amok. The Mississippian capital was once known for its numerous museums, musical history, and great food. As of 2021, Jackson is becoming a hotbed of murder and other crimes.

In 2021 alone, Jackson saw over 150 murders, mostly shootings. Since 2019, murders have spiked by over 30%. The murder rate is a staggering 15 times the national average, so it’s probably best to avoid the city altogether. As it stands today, Jackson has one of the highest murder rates in the entire country.

People who live in Jackson consider the central neighborhoods the worst part of town, and you risk a 1 in 16 chance of becoming a victim of violent crime there. By contrast, the eastern parts of town are relatively safe. If you must visit for some reason, consider staying in that area of town.

2. Biloxi, MS

Biloxi Lighthouse
Image Credit: Sean Pavone, Shutterstock
Population: 45,906
Murder rate: 6.5 per 100k people
Violent crime rate: 407.1 per 100k people
Poverty rate: 8,130 (19.4%)
Average household income: $41,137

Biloxi was once called the longest man-made beach in the world, and the barrier reefs off the Gulf of Mexico keep the water nice and tranquil. Other than the beach, Biloxi is well-known for its gambling. There are 11 casinos available for you to play slots or cards, but the crime rate in the area might make you reconsider.

Biloxi ranks on this list with the third-highest violent crime in Mississippi, plus there’s a 1 in 17 chance of being a victim of theft or robbery. If you hit up the casinos here, we’d recommend keeping one hand on your wallet at the tables.

Strangely enough, Biloxi is also rated as one of the most expensive places to live in the country. It seems it only pays to visit and not live in this crime-ridden city.

3. Laurel, MS

Laurel, Mississippi

Population: 18,508
Murder rate: 10.8 per 100k people
Violent crime rate: 676.7 per 100k people
Poverty rate: 5,670 (31.3%)
Average household income: $31,968

Laurel was once a big name in the timber industry, but data today indicates most people work in the healthcare industry. Other fun facts are that Laurel is the hometown of Lance Bass of NSYNC, plus the oldest art museum in Mississippi: the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art.

Laurel boasts a low cost of living but the second-highest violent crime rate in Mississippi. Specifically, the city has a high rate of aggravated assaults, and there’s a 1 in 147 chance of becoming a victim yourself every year. The better news is that Laurel ranks only seventh on the list for property crime.

Residents of Laurel say that the southwest areas of town are the worst, while the northeast halves your chances of being a victim of crime. Bear this in mind if you ever pass through.

4. Meridian, MS

Federal courthouse at Meridian, Mississippi
Image Credit: Rex Wholster, Shutterstock
Population: 37,848
Murder rate: 38 per 100k people
Violent crime rate: 490.8 per 100k people
Poverty rate: 9,920 (27.1%)
Average household income: $32,422

Located at the crux of three major railroads and home of Jimmie Rodgers, the “Father of Country Music,” Meridian is one of those towns out of a sorrowful country ballad, with classic Southern architecture and cuisine galore.

Unfortunately for Meridian, it’s also overrun with crime and regularly features on “Most Dangerous” lists like this one. There’s a 1 in 26 chance of being a victim of property crime here, and it has the second-highest violent crime in the state. With numbers like that, it’s shocking that no up-and-coming country stars have risen from the town recently.

Most reported crimes occur in the southwest parts of the city, while the southeast areas are much safer. No matter where you go in Meridian, though, you may wish to take measures to protect yourself.

5. Batesville, MS

Batesville, Mississippi

Population: 10,706
Murder rate: 0 per 100k people
Violent crime rate: 331.8 per 100k people
Poverty rate: 743 (11.5%)
Average household income: $45,202

Batesville is the second oldest city in Mississippi and has a decent Main Street economy. Also of note in the town is the zoo and golf course, but that’s about it. At first glance, it seems to be a really quiet town, but dark things lie beneath the surface.

Batesville has some of the highest property and violent crime rates in Mississippi, with a startlingly high number of rapes in recent years. Larceny is also off the charts, so keep an eye on your belongings and lock your car doors.

Most of Batesville’s crime seems to be concentrated in the southwest area of the town, whereas the southeast side doesn’t see as many crimes. This doesn’t mean to let your guard down, though!

6. Pascagoula, MS

Pascagoula, Mississippi

Population: 21,809
Murder rate: 18.5 per 100k people
Violent crime rate: 259.1 per 100k people
Poverty rate: 5,410 (25.7%)
Average household income: $39,887

Situated by the Gulf of Mexico, Pascagoula is named after a Native American word meaning “bread people.” The town’s claim to fame is its Singing River which sounds like a horde of buzzing bees. It’s also an industrial powerhouse, home to numerous of the state’s biggest employers, like General Motors and Huntington Ingalls Shipbuilding.

Pascagoula has displayed a marked improvement in violent crime from past years but still ranks the third most dangerous city in Mississippi for property crimes. What that means for you is a 1 in 7 chance of being a victim of theft or car theft, so make sure to lock up.

The west neighborhoods of Pascagoula are very dangerous, with a 1 in 9 chance of being a crime victim there. On the other hand, the southwest part of town has much less reported crime.

7. Vicksburg, MS

Mississippi River bridge at Vicksburg
Image Credit: JayL, Shutterstock
Population: 22,332
Murder rate: 40.4 per 100k people
Violent crime rate: 515.7 per 100k people
Poverty rate: 6,700 (30.7%)
Average household income: $32,072

Vicksburg is primarily known as the site of the Battle of Vicksburg, a pivotal conflict in the Civil War for the Union. Vicksburg’s National Military Park commemorates the conflict and honors the soldiers who died. It is arguably the biggest attraction the town has to offer.

Unfortunately, for a town so rich in history, you have a 1 in 19 chance of being a property crime victim. Violent crime isn’t that bad but still 40% higher than the national average. The most common crime is larceny, so lock your wallet in your car before strolling through the park. Much of Vicksburg’s crime is concentrated in the city’s south area; by contrast, the northwest side enjoys a lower crime rate.

8. Gulfport, MS

Gulfport, Mississippi

Population: 71,676
Murder rate: 16.6 per 100k people
Violent crime rate: 326 per 100k people
Poverty rate: 18,400 (26.3%)
Average household income: $39,171

With miles of sugar-white beaches, a Civil War-era fort, and no less than three water parks, the city of Gulfport seems like a nice spot. There are even 12 of Mississippi’s famous coastal casinos, so what’s not to love about this town?

Sadly, for its tourism industry, or perhaps because of it, Gulfport has the fourth-highest property crime rate in Mississippi. Believe it or not, though, the violent crime here is slightly below average. High poverty and unemployment rates are the most significant issues affecting crime rates.

Many of the crimes in Gulfport are clustered in the southeast area of town, and you have a 1 in 13 chance of being the victim of a crime there. We’d recommend staying far away from there and keeping an eye on your wallet while you enjoy the blackjack tables.

9. West Point, MS

West Point, Mississippi

Population: 10,626
Murder rate: 9.6 per 100k people
Violent crime rate: 373.9 per 100k people
Poverty rate: 3,180 (30.6%)
Average household income: $30,664

Together with Starkville and Columbus, West Point forms the Golden Triangle industrial region. Contrary to the name, West Point is a relatively small and economically vulnerable city. It gets virtually no snow but used to be home to the iconic Blazon-Flexible Flyer snow sled and used to be notable in the region for its Sara Lee meat packing plant.

Although it’s ranked as a top place to raise a family due to the cheap cost of living, West Point has crime issues that make it difficult to recommend. Violent crime is on par with the national average, but property crime is a problem. On average, you have a 1 in 35 chance of being the victim of a property crime in West Point.

Avoid the southwest parts of West Point because you have a 1 in 9 chance of falling victim to criminal activity. On the other hand, residents consider the northeast part of town the safest area.

10. Brookhaven, MS

Brookhaven, Mississippi

Population: 11,812
Murder rate: 49.8 per 100k people
Violent crime rate: 373.8 per 100k people
Poverty rate: 3,040 (26.2%)
Average household income: $32,331

Brookhaven was named after a town in New York and is home to the longest-running community theater in all of Mississippi: the Little Theater, with almost 200 productions to date. As charmingly quaint as that is, it doesn’t save the town from sky-high crime rates.

A staggering quarter of Brookhaven’s population is in poverty, which helps explain the high crime rates. Violent crime is about on par with the national average, but property crime is over 50% higher than its relative national average.

divider 5 Has Crime In Mississippi Gone Up Or Down In Recent Years?

While property crime in Mississippi has seen a downward trend in past decades, violent crime and murders have remained the same and have even gone up some years. In 2021 especially, MS capital Jackson was known as the Murder Capital of the US, with more murders than nearly any other US city.

Although there’s little hard data available regarding the causes of increased murder, some activists have drawn a correlation between open carry policies and, subsequently, higher murder rates. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that most homicides are gun-related.

Mississippi gulf
Image Credit: 1778011, Pixabay

How to Stay Safe in Mississippi

Mississippi may not be the safest state in the country, but there are some common-sense safety tips you can use to keep yourself protected if you happen to visit for the food or live bluegrass music.

Tips For Staying Safe In Mississippi:
  • If visiting Jackson, avoid going out at night at all costs, and try to stay away from downtown or other crowded areas. Gun violence is rampant here, and data says that most criminal activity occurs at night.
  • If you’re visiting a coastal city, be vigilant about weather alerts. It can be easy to get swept up in the excitement of a new city or beach, but Mississippi sometimes gets hit by pretty bad storms.
  • When traveling at night, keep your car doors locked and check your backseat before entering your car.
  • If possible, always travel in pairs or groups. If this isn’t possible, stick to well-lit areas and consider carrying pepper spray or other personal protection measures.

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Mississippi might be rich in music and cultural heritage, but it’s also chock full of big crime hotspots. If you’re visiting the state any time soon, we urge you to avoid the cities on this list. If nothing else, practice common-sense safety.

Featured Image Credit: Goodfreephotos_com, Pixabay


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