40ºF

‘White Boy Rick’ Wershe is free man after 32 years behind bars

Richard Wershe Jr. was longest-serving nonviolent juvenile offender in Michigan prison

Richard “White Boy Rick” Wershe Jr. is now a free man after 32 years behind bars.

He was released Monday from a Florida halfway house.

Wershe was being housed at the Transition House in Kissimmee, Fla. after spending nearly three decades behind bars in Michigan as a nonviolent drug offender. He was released from the Oaks Correction Facility in Michigan in April 2017 and turned over to U.S. Marshals.

Wershe was originally scheduled to be released from a Florida prison on April 20, 2021 bu the release date continued to move up due to good behavior. He was granted six days for every one month of good behavior.

This video shows him leaving the Florida prison. Wershe is sitting in the back of the black BMW sport utility vehicle. He is also seen using a sheet to cover his head on the other side of the fence:


The story of ‘White Boy Rick'

Wershe was the longest-serving nonviolent juvenile offender in Michigan history. Arrested at 17 years old for drug offenses, he was locked up in Michigan until age 48.

At age 14 he became the youngest FBI informant ever and helped bring down some of Detroit’s biggest drug dealers. But then he became a drug dealer himself, crossed powerful city leaders, and ended up in prison for three decades.

Richard Wershe Jr.
Richard Wershe Jr.

Read more: How ‘White Boy Rick’ became an informant, drug dealer in Detroit

In 1987, Wershe was arrested for possessing cocaine in excess of eight kilograms. He was sentenced to life in prison in Michigan under the state’s “650-Lifer Law,” a drug statute that penalized those found in possession of more than 650 grams of cocaine or heroin with a stiff penalty of life imprisonment without parole.

Wershe earned his parole in 2017 after nearly 30 years in prison. He was released from the Oaks Correctional Facility in Michigan in April 2017 and turned over to U.S. Marshals.

He was then transferred to a Florida prison because of a crime he committed while behind bars in Michigan. Wershe pleaded guilty to being involved in a car theft ring.

He is scheduled to be released Monday, July 20, 2020. He plans to return to Metro Detroit. He still has probation to serve in Michigan.

Read more: ‘White Boy Rick’ Wershe Jr. to return to Metro Detroit after release


Detroit historian: ‘White Boy Rick’ Wershe prison release ‘way overdue’

Detroit-based organized crime historian and true crime author Scott Burnstein says the end of Wershe’s decades-long sentence is “way overdue.”

“Today is a great day for truth, a great day for justice, a great day for vindication,” Burnstein said.

The author and historian has kept in touch with Wershe over the years and has studied his case extensively. Burstein even served as a consultant for the “White Boy Rick” film.

The true crime author believes that Wershe was jailed for an unjust length of time, especially considering the fact that he was groomed by the government at such an early age.

“Contrary to popular belief, Rick was not brought down on a kingpin statute, ... racketeering, ... (or) a continuing criminal enterprise statute -- Rick was arrested when he was 17 years old at a routine traffic stop where they found cocaine,” Burnstein said. “Under the law at that time, it was supposed to cost him the rest of his life, which is just ridiculous.

Read more here.


In September 2018, Local 4 shared a special documentary report on the life of Wershe, the now infamous figure in Detroit’s drug scene in the 1980s. Watch the full documentary here to learn the story of “White Boy Rick.”


Related: ‘White Boy’ Rick Wershe Jr. denied clemency in Florida


‘White Boy Rick’ the Hollywood film

A film based on his life titled “White Boy Rick” was released Sept. 14, 2018. Matthew McConaughey starred as Richard’s father, Richard Wershe Sr.

Watch: White Boy Rick weighs in on movie

More: Former Detroit hitman wants ‘White Boy Rick’ to be released from prison


About the Author: