Michigan’s Worst Drug Law: The White Boy Rick Story

Gavel depicting White Boy Rick story

Last summer, Richard Wershe Jr. was finally released on parole in the State of Michigan after serving more than 29 years of a life sentence for a drug crime in the 80’s. He was released to a prison in Florida to serve almost four more years for a crime committed while in prison in 2006. He’s not free yet.

White Boy Rick

White Boy Rick was Michigan’s last remaining inmate still serving time under an old law for a crime he committed as a juvenile. Many other such convicts had previously been released when the law was rolled back. However, it took more time for White Boy Rick.

Was it because his case was so famous? Or was it something more sinister, like the writer of this work implies? Because he informed on the wrong people, were people with the law on their side?

In any case, Richard Wershe was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole under Michigan’s so-called 650 Lifer law. It was enacted in 1978. It said that whoever was found in possession of more than 650 grams of cocaine would automatically be sentenced to life without parole.

Wershe had 8 kilos of cocaine stashed behind his house when police stopped him in a traffic stop in May 1987. He was 17. In addition, if you believe the story, he had also already been an informant by the FBI for several years.

Worst Mistake of Career

The governor who signed this law called it the worst mistake of his career. At the time, the average time served for murder in state prisons was less than ten years.

However, the craziest part of this story is the claims Wershe has made that seem to be true. He was acting as an FBI drug informant from the age of 14. He had been recruited by the FBI and taught the drug trade.

What his lawyers at the time didn’t know but what has been confirmed by his former FBI informant handler James Dixon, is true. As a young teenager, Richard Wershe Jr. helped to bring down some of Detroit’s most notorious drug lords.

He played a central part in “Operation Backbone” even after landing in prison. The documentary-maker who tells Wershe’s story alleges that Mayor Coleman Young  did everything he could to make sure Wershe would spend the rest of his life behind bars.

White Boy Rick’s story has been made into a major motion picture, set to be released in September 2018, starring Matthew McConaughey and Richie Merritt.

Over to You

What do you think? Are Richard Wershe Jr.’s stories true? Was he recruited by the FBI years before he was arrested for drug trade? Could the corruption in Detroit really keep him in prison for so many years longer than he should have been? Longer than anyone else sentenced under the same, unfair, law?

Or is his story meant to minimize his real involvement in the drug trade? Is he making himself look more innocent than he is?