In the fifth in an occasional series following California parolee Ronald Eugene Williams, the Sacramento Bee says that Williams, 44, hopes to defy recidivism’s odds. Still sober and drug-freen, he is in his longest such stretch outside prison in more than 20 years. His freedom remains a work in progress, and Williams faces a critical juncture next month when state money for his housing and drug treatment runs out. “He’s clean – clean of everything,” said Kristine Kaestner, the mother of two of Williams’ six children and the victim in his four domestic violence episodes that date back to 1989.
Williams is one of 123,000 parolees in California whose lives outside prison have become a huge focus for a state correctional system struggling to corral an overflowing inmate population. About 70 percent of the offenders will be back in prison within three years of their release, if the state’s current recidivism rate holds true. Williams insists he won’t be one of them. “It’s a little rocky at times, but everything has panned out,” he said of his latest freedom. “It’s all good.” He lives in a sober-living halfway house. He attends drug treatment and domestic violence classes. He is enrolled in four college courses, and goes to another seven-hour class every Saturday that is a prerequisite toward his newest life goal – becoming a certified drug addiction specialist.