Psychopaths Know How to Work the System

knowledge-against-prison1While it may not be surprising that psychopaths are more adept at deception than others, it’s unnerving to consider that this sinister ability also gets them out of prison sooner.  That’s what a new study in the journal Legal and Criminological Psychology indicates is happening. 

The study examined the psychological profiles, criminal records, prison histories, release rates and post-release success/failure rates of 310 male federal offenders.  Psychopathy was linked to a higher level of nonviolent and violent offenses in general, and to a higher rate of sexual offenses against children – plus more repeat offenses after release from prison.

Here’s the kicker: Psychopathic offenders were also released from prison at a rate 2.5 times higher than other offenders.  To sum that up — the most dangerous offenders, especially against children, with an exceptionally high recidivism rate, are much more likely to get out of prison early. 

The study speculates that psychopaths are more skilled at persuading parole boards to release them earlier than other prisoners.

Dr. Stephen Porter, the principal researcher on this study, commented:

This could be because psychopaths were better at manipulating their words and actions, and do this to impress and deceive decision makers throughout the correctional system. Using superficial charm and crocodile tears they may be better able to persuade mental health professionals in prison, and eventually parole boards, that they can be successfully managed into the community.

Here’s an interesting piece in Scientific American about what “psychopath” really means.  Here’s a link to a BBC News article on the study.

hat tip: BPS Research Digest


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