'White Boy Rick' Discusses Possible Parole Hearing

By McCarton Ackerman 02/16/17
Richard Wershe Jr. has been serving a life sentence for cocaine possession since 1988.
White Boy Rick aka Richard Wershe
White Boy Rick aka Richard Wershe Photo via YouTube

After nearly 30 years behind bars, the man known as White Boy Rick is hopeful that he can finally go home.

The 47-year-old, born Richard Wershe Jr., has been serving a life sentence since he was 17. He was locked up in 1988 after being convicted of possession with intent to deliver more than 17 pounds of cocaine from Florida to Michigan.

Wershe’s sentence came under Michigan’s since-abolished 650-Lifer Law, which called for an automatic sentence of life without parole for anyone found guilty of possessing more than 650 grams of cocaine. That was replaced with a 20-year mandatory minimum sentence before the mandatory minimum was eliminated entirely. Since Wershe's sentencing, courts have also ruled that juveniles may not be automatically given mandatory life sentences.

Although his mandatory life sentence has since been lifted, Wershe’s attorney said his client has only been given one opportunity to state his case in front of a parole board more than 13 years ago, and that he hasn’t been given a reasonable chance to fight for a shortened sentence in court.

However, that could soon change. MLive.com reported that Wershe had a meeting on Tuesday (Feb. 14) with Michigan Parole Board Chair Mike Eagen, where they discussed his time behind bars and what he would do if released. Those findings will be presented at a board meeting next month and, if approved, a public hearing would take place in June.

“I would like a commutation to enable me to live the remainder of my days being a father, a grandfather and uncle, in addition to being a law abiding, tax paying and productive member of my community and in society as a whole,” said Wershe in a statement provided to the Clemency Report. “During my incarceration, I have and continue to do charity work that has raised thousands of dollars. Upon my release from prison, I would like to continue to contribute to society by continuing to use my experiences in life to help at-risk youth and continue with charity work when I can.”

But even if Wershe is released, it’s possible he may be moved to Florida for another sentence, according to MLive.com. While previously serving time in a Florida prison, he pleaded guilty to participating in an auto theft and title fraud scheme behind bars. He received a five-year sentence for that crime, but hasn’t served it yet because he was already serving life.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.