Madison - St. Clair Record

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Madison County GOP slates former public defender for state's attorney; Candidate focusing on crime and prosecution rates

By Taryn Phaneuf | Apr 19, 2016


Ron Williams believes that, if elected as Madison County’s next state’s attorney, he could reduce the violent crime rate by 17 percent in a year.

“I absolutely know how to do it and I will do it,” Williams, a retired attorney, told the Record. “Seventeen percent of the crime committed in 2015 was committed by people who should’ve been in prison and were not. If they’re in prison, they can’t commit crimes in Madison County.”

Williams was slated as candidate by the Madison County Republican Central Committee on Wednesday. He will face Democrat incumbent Tom Gibbons in the November general election. 

Williams said rehabilitation, recidivism and deterrence should matter as much as conviction rates, but they’ve been ignored.

“The result is Madison County has a violent offense rate about 30 percent higher than the surrounding counties,” he said.

He said he’ll address the problems he sees by charging suspects with appropriate offenses and prosecuting those offenses. Currently, a third of the offenses charged in the county are resolved after the suspect pleads guilty to a lesser charge and is minimally sentenced, Williams said.

“We need to create a regiment where we charge the offenses that we can prove and then prosecute those offenses,” he said.

Williams said the county’s violent crime rates are one of two elements that made him decide to enter the race for state’s attorney. The second is political.

“This county, has been dominated by Democratic politics for an awfully long time,” he said. 

Williams lives in Glen Carbon. He moved to the area about 30 years ago during his final assignment with the U.S. Army. After he retired, he managed an engineering firm for a few years. But he ran into a problem: “My engineering skills were from another generation,” he said.

Faced with the need to go back to school, he decided to learn something new. Law seemed to be a good fit as he’d taken part in court martial proceedings while serving in the Army during a time when line officers, not lawyers, prosecuted and defended service members. 

At age 57, he graduated from Northern Illinois University law school. Williams started as a prosecutor and, as he gained experience, he started defending soldiers, following a protocol that the officer with the most trial experience provides the defense.

Williams worked 12 years in the public defender’s office before retiring about four years ago. 

To get on the ballot in November, he’ll have to gather 231 signatures from registered voters. The county filing deadline is May 31.

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Madison County Northern Illinois University

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