Despite the rumors, ex-offenders do become productive citizens who make positive impacts on the lives of their families, communities, and especially, themselves. “Roxbury Redemption” (Xlibris, $19.99), a candid memoir by Dr. Earle Williams, a Christian clinical psychologist, furnishes such an example and an extensive course of action for those who have experienced traumatic events.
Growing up in Roxbury, the segregated Black section of Boston, with his parents and two siblings, several beatings from both parents were not enough to deter William’s defiance. His father tried to force him to take piano lessons. “I resisted and was very oppositional,” Williams wrote. His father then steered him into plumbing. Williams says he hated every moment of it.
In 1962, when Williams was 17, he joined the Air Force though his mother sternly objected. “You’re too stupid to finish high school. You should drop out and get a job,” said his father, as he signed the papers to allow his son to join the armed services.
Williams “hated authority” and that led to his drinking, drug use, and eventual discharge from the Air Force in 1966 during the time the country was engulfed in racial turmoil. H. Rap Brown, Malcolm X, and Hughie P. Newton were debating America’s policies towards Blacks. Angela Davis was on the run from the law and Williams’ mother was hit and killed by a car driven by a White man. Williams was devastated. “The anger came roaring into my heart,” he recalls.
He turned to crime. “For me, crime was revenge for my mother’s death,” he says. Only after years of thefts, arrests, and numerous probations, did his luck run out in 1969 and the courts sentenced him to three years in prison. His angry, militant attitude went to jail, too, and he found himself engaged in many confrontations.
Once he was released from prison, he says, “being out of prison felt like a resurrection.” At 27, he was ready for work and school. He became a truck driver, took odd jobs, and even tried plumbing. He soon enrolled into college.
With degrees, child, and wife, Williams moved to Virginia Beach, Virginia and began to incorporate Christian teachings into his work as a psychologist. “It occurred to me that most of all the life lessons of the Bible were contained in the book of Proverbs,” explains Williams.
While Williams’ book starts off slow, my favorite parts are from the second half where Williams urges readers to “get out and stay out of the new plantation called prison.” He also discusses the numerous reasons why there are more than two million human beings incarcerated in American prisons.
Most importantly, Williams’ life demonstrates that ex-offenders can remain ex-offenders. For Williams, however, he sees the trials and tribulations in his life as God’s path for him, “to become a Christian clinical forensic psychologist,” he says.