Four months after his release from prison, Colwin Williams is learning that adjusting to life on the outside after more than 18 years behind bars is harder than he thought. Much harder.
“In prison, unless things went bad, there was structure, everything was controlled. You got up at a certain time. You ate a certain time. You went out at a certain time. Every single day,” he said. “Out here, everything can change on a dime.”
“I’m still trying to get used to the real, free world.”
And parts of that world are situations that turn into temptations that turn into big trouble for Williams.
Last month, the ex-con who I’ve been following since March, faced the very sobering possibility of being sent back to prison after he violated his pre-release by smoking marijuana.
He confessed and got a break. His social passes were revoked for a while, but he was still out.
And then a few weeks ago, he got into a verbal confrontation with a manager at his halfway house. Others had noticed his erratic behavior and suspected he was smoking marijuana again. But, he says, he wasn’t and drug tests back him up.
Still, even he could feel himself coming undone. Doctors reviewed his anxiety medication and adjusted his doses.
“I feel much better now,” he says.
But the damage was done. Williams was supposed to be eligible for parole this week. He planned to move in with his mother, get a job and continue public speaking. But now his parole date is up in the air. And Williams is struggling a bit to remain optimistic.
“I’m not discouraged but I’m disappointed,” he said. “I have to remind myself that it has only been four months, but I thought I’d be farther along by now.”
In the meantime, he’s trying to stay focused. His sister helped him get a scholarship to Buck’s County Community College. He plans on taking a full load, including classes in psychology and sociology.
“I’m a little stressed, don’t get me wrong. But every time I find myself off track, I’m trying real hard to get back on track.”