DETROIT – For nearly three decades, "White Boy" Rick Wershe's sentence for drug offenses has been the subject of passionate debate. But on Friday, he has a chance for parole.
Wershe has been a bundle of nerves the last several days, but when he spoke Thursday with the Local 4 Defenders, there was a sense of calm in his voice. He said he's at peace and feels like he's done everything he possibly can to earn his freedom.
After 29 years and 7 months behind bars, Wershe is less than 24 hours from a vote on his freedom.
"The waiting is the most stressful part," Wershe said. "You replay things in your head over and over again, and of course, in here, you have so much time on your hands. So when you're sitting in your cell, you just dwell on things, and to be honest, it's hard to get any sleep."
Wershe is grateful to the parole board for giving him a chance to explain his undercover drug work for police at age 14, his work with the FBI in prison busting dirty cops and drug dealers and to apologize for his crimes -- drug dealing as a teen in Detroit and conspiring with a Florida stolen-car ring by phone from prison.
"Your life is in 10 people's hands, and you hope six of them have the compassion to realize that the mistakes I made were as a kid, and as a younger man with the stupid thing in Florida, and that I'm not a danger to anyone," Wershe said.
Wershe was arrested at 17 years old. He's now 47 years old and it's hard to be optimistic.
"I've been turned down so many times and had the door shut so many times when I thought it was open," Wershe said. "That's absolutely the stressful part."
He's hoping and praying the parole board releases him from his life sentence.
"A thousand-pound weight has been lifted off of my chest," Wershe said. "I'll be elated to get what's left of my life back and be able to go and spend time with my family and friends. I'll be overwhelmed with joy."
His mother is also on pins and needles, and his children and grandchildren try to keep in touch over the phone. But for the most part, 30 years has been lost. They're waiting and watching for the results of the vote, hoping to put their family back together once Wershe is released.
The parole board will meet at 9 a.m. Friday. Stay with ClickOnDetroit.com and Local 4 News for information as soon as a decision is made.