Sunday, June 15, 2008
Paroled out of San Quentin at 8 a.m. Saturday, Ronald Eugene Williams hopped two buses and by 4:45 p.m. had rolled into the Greyhound-Amtrak station in Old Town Roseville.
From there, the nine-time convicted felon got a ride to an Auburn halfway house for drug addicts and alcoholics that he will call home for the next six months.
On Monday, he checked in with his new parole agent and shocked her world.
"I was pleasantly surprised," agent Magdalena Cardona said. "Because when you look at his bio and his track record, it's not good. But he had a really good attitude when he showed up."
So far, it's been a good week of parole for the 44-year-old Williams. Just 155 more weeks like it, and he'll become one of the lucky few parolees in California who overcome their past to create promise for their future.
With California struggling to fix a parole system where only three in 10 offenders complete their three years of supervised release without returning to prison, Williams represents a case study on whether the state can turn those numbers around.
Stacked against the backgrounds of the 370 parolees who walk out of California prisons every day, Williams' record is typical – and horrid.
It sports 31 arrests, nine felony convictions – most on drug or domestic violence charges – and 11 parole revocations.
He's addicted to methamphetamine and takes lithium for bipolar disorder.
He smoked pot at age 10 but says he didn't really go bad until his older brother raped and murdered a woman 28 years ago.
He has six children by five mothers.
He's also unguardedly optimistic about his re-entry into freedom.
"I'm pretty relaxed," Williams said Saturday morning at 6, one of 14 prisoners caged in the Receiving and Release office at San Quentin. "I have a plan. This is the first time I've ever paroled with a plan. It's a plan I know is going to work."
His ticket to drug treatment, at a cost of $90 a day to taxpayers, makes Williams think he can make it this time.
"I have a great chance," he said. "I'm just going to follow through." [Mark Godsey]