MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Police say it was a father-son crime team that led to their cruiser getting stolen and torched New Year's Day. The Father, Issac Hayes Porterfield is on the run. He's part of one of the most notorious crime families in Memphis. Psychologists say when it comes to criminal families bad behavior is hard to break.
They're known as the "Porterfield Posse". Issac Hayes Porterfield is suspected in this week's police carjacking; cops say his 15-year-old son was arrested when the two fought with police. According to neighbors, his son is the forth generation of hardened criminals. The family accounts for more than 400 arrests in Memphis and counting.
Sidney Porterfield is on death row. In a 2009 article in the Commercial Appeal, Sidney called the legacy of crime "a family tradition." He said jail employees knew his cousins, Aaron, James and Issac Hayes, by name.
Clinical Psychologist Dr. John McCoy says, "If a person grows up and their father's in the penitentiary and their uncle and 10 other relatives are drug dealers and their mom is in trouble and they were selling drugs at 14, it's not hard to understand at 18 why they would continue that, that's what they know."
Dr. McCoy doesn't know the Porterfields but he does know criminal families and says it's normal for relatives to get locked up. McCoy says, "It's unusual to have someone in trouble with the law repeatedly that doesn't have a family history."
Dr. McCoy says some of the violent and raging behavior can be genetic, but there's a bigger problem that makes the cycle difficult to break. "A big part of the problem is being desensitized to robberies, shootings and murders. This is a huge part of the problem, many of the people involved in it almost think of it like a trip to the grocery store, it means almost nothing to them."
He says Memphis needs to try something new to break the cycle. "There's got to be some way to take kids who are at risk for this type of lifestyle and as soon as possible to intervene with the goal being to sensitize them to these crimes and to violence," Dr. McCoy says.
The District Attorney declined to comment on the family history in Memphis because she doesn't want to affect a possible pending case.