DETROIT – A yes vote Friday for parole would not swing open the prison gates for Richard Wershe Jr.
The Michigan Department of Corrections will take another 30 to 90 days to make sure Wershe has a safe place to live and plans for a job.
"I'm not going to move back to my old neighborhood. You know, I have good people. I have a good support team. I mean there's people that have come into my life," said Wershe.
He said the teenage drug icon known as "White Boy Rick" is dead. What remains is a 47-year-old man named Richard Wershe Jr. who wants nothing to do with the old way of life. He is eager to live an ordinary life outside of prison, where he's been since 1988 when he was convicted of possessing more than 650 grams of cocaine. He's the longest-serving non-violent juvenile offender in Michigan.
"I want to visit my grandkids. I want to visit my grandparents' graves. You know, I want to see my mom. Just things I haven't been able to do in so long -- see my nieces and nephews, my kids. I mean, I've been caged up my whole life, so just to be free," he said.
He has had multiple offers for housing and work.
"Whether that's speaking at colleges, or working in construction ... I think I have all of those opportunities available to me through the circle of friends who rallied around me to support me," said Wershe.
If Wershe is paroled Friday the department of corrections will begin doing house visits and conduct interviews to make sure Wershe has his best chance at success on the outside.
Wershe still owes prison time in Florida
Meanwhile, Wershe owes the state of Florida 22 months behind bars for a crime he committed while behind bars in Michigan. He has been described as a model prisoner during his time behind bars, with one major exception. He pleaded guilty 11 years ago to racketeering and conspiracy to move stolen cars in Florida. His attorney is trying to have the crime forgiven, since Wershe has spent more than 29 years in prison for drugs and car theft.
Attorney Ralph Musilli said Wershe should have been out several years ago, but unless he can convince Florida lawmakers to give his client a break, a Florida prison will be Wershe's next stop.