This Wisconsin City Has Been Named One of the “Crime Capital” in the Entire Country


Wisconsin is commonly associated with cheese, beer, and the Green Bay Packers. However, there is another component of the state that is less desirable: crime. According to a recent FBI study, Wisconsin has the nation’s 17th worst violent crime rate, with 297.6 incidences per 100,000 inhabitants in 2019. Madison comes up as the state’s most dangerous city.

Madison: The Crime Capital of Wisconsin

Madison, Wisconsin’s capital and second most populous city, with a population of 269,840 in 2020. It also houses the state’s flagship public university, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as some other educational and cultural organizations. Madison is frequently listed as one of the greatest locations to live in the United States, because of its high standard of living, thriving economy, and progressive political atmosphere.

However, Madison has a darker side: it is Wisconsin’s crime capital. According to the FBI, Madison had the highest violent crime rate of any city in the state with a population of 100,000 or more in 2019, with 434.8 occurrences per 100,000 residents.

This is higher than the national average of 366.7 and more than double the state average of 297.6. Madison also had the highest property crime rate among the same cities, with 2,595.4 occurrences per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to the national average of 2,109.9 and the state average of 1,732.4.

The most prevalent violent crimes in Madison are aggravated assault, robbery, and rape. In 2019, there were 1,172 violent assaults, 261 robberies, and 186 rapes in the city. There were also 15 murders, which is low when compared to other cities of comparable size but still more than the state average of 3.1 per 100,000 residents.

The most prevalent forms of property crimes in Madison are larceny theft, burglary, and auto theft. In 2019, there were 6,265 occurrences of larceny theft, 1,057 burglaries, and 273 motor vehicle thefts in the city.

What Are the Causes and Consequences of Crime in Madison?

Many reasons contribute to Madison’s high crime rate, including poverty, inequality, drug misuse, mental illness, gang involvement, and a lack of social services. According to the US Census Bureau, Madison’s poverty rate in 2019 was 13.5%, higher than the state average of 10.4% and the national average of 12.3%.

Madison’s median household income was $64,101, less than the state average of $64,168 and the national average of $65,712. Madison’s income inequality ratio was 0.48, which is above the state average of 0.46 and the national average of 0.47. These figures show a considerable disparity between the wealthy and the poor in Madison, which can lead to anger, animosity, and criminality.

Another aspect influencing crime in Madison is drug misuse, particularly opioids. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, there were 886 opioid-related deaths in Wisconsin in 2019, with 93 occurring in Dane County, which includes Madison. This means Dane County had the second highest number of opioid-related deaths in the state, after only Milwaukee County (302). Opioid usage may lead to addiction, overdose, and violence, as well as increased demand for illicit narcotics and involvement by drug traffickers and gangs.

Mental illness is also a big factor influencing crime in Madison. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Dane County had 4,766 mental health-related hospitalizations in 2019, with 2,671 being involuntary. This implies Dane County has the largest number of mental health-related hospitalizations in the state, as well as the highest incidence of involuntary hospitalizations per 100,000 inhabitants (334.9). Mental illness can affect judgment, impulse control, and emotional management while also increasing the risk of suicide, self-harm, and violence.

Gang involvement is another element contributing to Madison’s crime rate. According to the Madison Police Department, the city has around 30 active gangs, with an estimated 1,000 members. These gangs are engaged in a variety of illegal acts, including drug trafficking, robbery, burglary, theft, assault, and homicide. Gang violence frequently increases owing to rivalries, conflicts, and revenge, endangering innocent bystanders and the broader public.

A lack of social assistance contributes to Madison’s crime problem. According to the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, Dane County had 2,282 cases of child abuse and neglect in 2019, with 1,114 of these being substantiated. This indicates that Dane County has the third most child abuse and neglect cases in the state, as well as the second highest rate of substantiated instances per 1,000 children, at 5.3. Child abuse and neglect can have long-term negative consequences for children’s physical, mental, and emotional development, as well as raise the risk of delinquency, substance misuse, and criminal conduct in adulthood.

Madison’s high crime rate has major ramifications for both the city and its citizens. Crime may jeopardize people’s safety, security, and well-being while also harming the city’s reputation, economy, and social fabric. Crime can also dissuade potential visitors, investors, and businesses from visiting Madison, limiting the city’s growth and development. Crime may also lead to a cycle of fear, distrust, and isolation, eroding Madison’s feeling of community and civic involvement.


Wisconsin, a state known for its cheese and football, is dealing with high crime rates. Madison has the highest violent and property crime rates in the state, despite its reputation for a great quality of life. Poverty, socioeconomic disparity, drug abuse, mental illness, gang activity, and a lack of social services all contribute to Madison’s crime problem, endangering public safety, economic development, and community cohesiveness. The city’s high crime rates necessitate concerted measures to address underlying societal concerns and create a safer, more inclusive society.

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