Author:Haskins, Alice

Serving Time Too: A Memoir of My Son's Prison Years

Written by Rosalind Boone Williams with Patricia Dunlavy Volenti, Rowman & Littlefield(2019), 187 pp.

The criminal justice system is primed for change, particularly as it applies to incarceration. The direction of those changes is not yet clearly defined, but it is important that many voices be heard so the charted course reflects the concerns of those inside and outside the bars. "Serving Time Too: A Memoir of My Son's Prison Years" was written by Rosalind Williams to describe the pain and sacrifices she made as her son served a lengthy prison sentence. She questions how her son, living in a nice neighborhood with a loving and engaged family, could be involved in a murder. Unwittingly, perhaps, as the story evolves, many of the answers are revealed. Not so obvious are the interventions that at any stage might have changed the narrative.

Marell Williams was a typical high school senior, prepared to join the Navy following graduation. While he had some minor problems in his past including an arrest for taking a pair of pants without paying for them, he was generally respectful and cooperative, with no history of violent talk or behavior. His life changed on a snowy February day in his Fayetteville neighborhood. A man who was watching TV in his home was killed in a drive by shooting. Rosalind and James Williams were stunned when police questioned their son, and eventually charged him with first-degree murder.

The book does not provide a definitive explanation for the shooting incident; it is known that the victim's wife convinced Marell and his friend to buy a gun and to shoot into the home. There is no mention in the story as to whose car was used or who was driving. Marell never admitted to firing the fatal shot but did say that the shooting was intended to scare the victim, not to hurt him. He did show police where the weapon was after the shooting. Marell eventually accepted a plea deal, which included charges of second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. The minimum sentence of 16 years was considerably longer than the sentences imposed on his co-conspirators.

"Serving Time Too" is autobiographical, describing Rosalind Williams' relationship with her son during his 16 years of incarceration and two and a half years post release (1996-2014). She describes her unconditional commitment to her son and the activities necessary to support him as a second job. These included...

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