Most Corrupt States 2020

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to worry about corruption. We could rest assured that our local, state, and federal governments are looking out for the best interest of its citizens. Unfortunately, many nations around the world deal with corruption – including the United States.

Although the United States may not be as corrupt as some other nations in the world, there have been some notable scandals and evidence of corruption throughout the years. In some states, this is more prevalent than others.

Measuring how corrupt a state is can be difficult, and it’s not a perfect science. However, the University of Illinois at Chicago released a report in early 2019 that ranked the most corrupt states based on data from the Department of Justice. For the report, titled “Corruption in Chicago and Illinois,” data from the Public Integrity Section was used to determine which states were the most corrupt.

This report based its rankings on the number of public corruption convictions in each state. These numbers were further broken down into number of convictions per capita. Based on this data, Washington, D.C. was found to be the most corrupt in the U.S. Even though it’s not a state, Washington, D.C., which is a hub of political activity because it is the national capital, had a total of 1,159 corruption convictions, which amounted to 17.24 per capita.

The number of convictions per capita in the nation’s capital is significantly higher than the next most corrupt state, Louisiana. Even though the total number of convictions in this state was higher at 1,202, this is just 2.57 convictions per capita.

Coming in third on this list is Illinois, which had 2,102 corruption convictions or 1.63 per capital. Tennessee is fourth on the list with 1,015 convictions in total or 1.54 per capital. New York rounds out the top five with 2,860 corruption convictions, or 1.44 per capita.

States including Texas, Florida, and California had a high number of public corruption convictions. However, because of the population of these states is so high, they had a much lower rate of convictions per capita.

Conviction rate is per 10,000 people
State Conviction Rate Number of Convictions (1976–2016) 2020 Pop.
New Jersey1.241,1138,936,574
New York1.442,86019,440,469
District of Columbia17.241,159720,687