‘White Boy Rick’ the longest-serving nonviolent youth offender in Michigan, is coming home

Colin Fredericson
By Colin Fredericson
July 14, 2017US News
‘White Boy Rick’ the longest-serving nonviolent youth offender in Michigan, is coming home
A young inmate looks out from prison bars in a file photo. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

A convict known as White Boy Rick was put into prison when he was 17 years old. Having served over 29 years of a life sentence, he’s finally getting parole—but parole won’t necessarily mean freedom.

At the time of his arrest, while still a teenager, Rick Wershe was known as a top drug dealer in Detroit. According to an in-depth report by Click On Detroit, he was a police informant before that at age 14. Although the information he provided was meant to arrest drug dealers, much of it ended up being used to convict corrupt police and people close to Detroit’s mayor at the time, Coleman Young.

The FBI was using information Wershe provided to clean up corruption. People in the FBI also fought for his freedom, while the DEA and local officials continually denied it.

Wershe was arrested in 1988 with 650 grams of cocaine. 

He ended up serving more years than any other nonviolent juvenile offender in the history of Michigan. He is now 47-years-old. Although he is scheduled to be released from prison next month after finally earning parole, he may still have to serve time in Florida for crimes that he helped orchestrate while in detention. Eleven years ago he admitted to charges of racketeering and conspiracy to move stolen cars in Florida.

“I introduced somebody,” said Wershe, according to Click on Detroit. “My sister was given $6,000, and that is the extent of it.”

Wershe still owes 22 months of time to the state of Florida for the conviction.

His story was the subject of a documentary called “White Boy,” released this year. He is also the subject of a feature film scheduled to be released in January, 2018, with Matthew McConaughey set to portray Rick’s father. McConaughey spent over five hours in prison with Wershe to prepare for the role.

Many believe Rick Wershe’s sentence was too harsh. Even top Detroit drug dealers that Wershe informed on, who were set free much sooner than Wershe, think he was made out to be a much bigger criminal than he actually was.

A media release from the Michigan Department of Corrections confirmed the July 14 decision to grant him freedom. The release also mentions that Florida authorities will have to make their own arrangements for the sentence that Wershe is to serve there, though legal intervention could change that.

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