We came across a great infographic from GOOD. The graphic, "Dishonest Abes: Which State Governments are Most Corrupt," uses the total number of corruption convictions and the number of convictions per 10,000 population from 1976-2010 as its measures of "corruption." California tops the list in terms of total convictions -- 2,345 during the period. Large states, New York (#2), Florida (#4), and Texas (#6) definitely make the list, but Illinois (#3), Pennsylvania (#5), Ohio (#7), DC (#8), New Jersey (#9), and Louisiana (#10) round it out. Adjusting for population changes the picture. DC (unsurprisingly?) tops the list with 16.7 convictions per 10,000 popuation. The next closest state is Louisiana with 2 convictions per 10,000 population. California comes in at #9 with 0.63 per 10,000 convictions.
Convictions may not fully capture the spirit or scope of corruption, but it certainly is one measure of corruption. Are some legal systems simply tougher than others? Perhaps, but the graphic definitely relies on the old saying, "Where there's smoke, there's fire."