Families of sociopaths need help when incarceration is over

Shortly after I met serial killer Rodney Alcala, he invited me over to see his photography. At the time he was living with his parents even though he was 35. Upon entering the home, he introduced me to his mother who was visibly angry with him for inviting me over. Looking back now I can guess this was because he had been convicted twice of violent crimes against young girls.

I do not blame the Alcala family for the behavior of Rodney or for not telling me to get away from him. I only bring up this story to highlight the fact that when offenders are released from prison they become a problem for their families.

A person getting out of prison has no place to go, no home, no money and no job. It is only natural they turn to their families. It would take a pretty cold-hearted or perhaps enlightened family to refuse to help.

Criminologists consider family resources to be a buffer against recidivism. Although I have not thoroughly researched this field, I haven’t seen proof that families really prevent re-offense vs. Re-arrest. One authoritative web site says this:

Family-focused programs in community corrections are based on the recognition that families provide an informal agent of control that are more powerful than formal agents of control (probation, parole, law enforcement) for offenders under supervision in the community.

Now if you read that and understood the above quote you are laughing with me. While families may have a positive influence on offenders who are not disordered, to say that families have any power to stop a sociopath/psychopath is ridiculous.

I would like to see violent offenders evaluated for the presence of psychopathy. The reason is that many people especially the offender’s family members take the attitude “They served their time, give them a chance to do better.” In many cases offending is more reflective of a situation than an individual’s personality per se. But if a person goes out looking for prey, finds an innocent victim, lures them and then assaults them, we can’t chalk that up to being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In the case of predation, assuming the person was not falsely accused/convicted, the crime has to reflect a personality disposition.

We should not be releasing psychopathic offenders (as defined by the PCL-R) to the care of untrained family members who haven’t the slightest idea what to do. In this case rather than the family serving as an “informal agent of control”, the family home serves as a secure base from which the offender can launch attacks upon the community.

For more on families as resources for offenders see the Center for Evidence Based Practice

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34 Comments on "Families of sociopaths need help when incarceration is over"

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Matt, you are SPOT ON with your post about a LIFE SENTENCE WITHOUT PAROLE! That is exactly what it is like. I didn’t realize totally what this entailed until the last couple of years but I have DONE MY TIME, HARD TIME! Plenty of Solitary Confinement and plenty of abuse from the guards (the world at large) and my “cell mate” (P-son).

I’ve BROKEN OUT and ESCAPED from the prison of my relationship with him and am now on the run, but I”m FREE even if I do have to look over my shoulder. Also, I realize that I HAVE COMMITTED NO CRIME and the REAL criminal is the one who stalks me and the bounty hunters he hires or dupes!

But I no longer live in FEAR or TERROR because I know that I have seen the worst he can do to me, and it is to terrorize me. As long as I am no living in fear I WIN.

I remember the faces of the other families visiting in the prison when I would go see him. Many times you would see it was the parents of the inmates bringing his young children to visit “daddy” in prison, or sometimes the wife bringing the kids to visit. Most prisoners were young men, 20-25. I remember the looks of sadness and resignation on the faces of the mothers. Or the looks of contempt from some of the prison staff. Everyone pretending this was just a family day at a hospital or something.

No more. I’m outta there for good!


Thank you for your post, having been interested in what you had to say about the families of spaths, being sensitive to their plight.

OxDrover and bluejay:

Thanks for the kudos.

I had a most interesting encounter today — I bumped into S-ex’s ex (two exes ago). Those of you who know my story may recall my taking S-ex for a visit to Washington to see the cherry blossoms. S-ex chose that visit to sandbag his ex, who is now an Episcopal priest, on the altar.

Anyhow, I bumped into the ex. He recognized me. And naturally asked about S-ex. I told him that I was no longer seeing S-ex and had relocated to Washington. He then mentioned that S-ex had contacted him several times. I just looked at him and said “If you are smart, you haven’t responded and won’t respond.” He told me “There isn’t any upside for me to respond.” I told him “I think you need to be updated on what he’s been up to since you broke up. For you own safety and well-being.” He seemed momentarily taken aback. But, I saw that look come into his eyes — you know that look — of someone who has been to hell and back. Even if they can’t name where they’ve been, they know they have no interest in going back there. Anyhow, he agreed and gave me his card. So, one of these days I may call him. Or maybe I’ll just send him a copy of my extensive files on S and let him draw his own conclusions.

Things work out ……:)

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