DETROIT – Richard "White Boy Rick" Wershe Jr. has arrived in Florida to serve his prison sentence for a crime he pleaded guilty to while behind bars in Michigan.
He now is being housed at the Reception and Medical Center state prison in Lake Butler, Fla. The Florida Department of Corrections lists his current release date as April 20, 2021.
Wershe, who spent nearly three decades behind bars as a nonviolent drug offender, waived an extradition hearing earlier this month and was cleared to close out his 29 years behind bars in Michigan. He was released from the Oaks Correction Facility in Michigan in April and turned over to U.S. Marshals.
If Wershe serves all his time in Florida it could be a little more than three and a half years, but he will also be eligible to ask for release through clemency in as little as a few months. Wershe said he will stay positive and do everything he can to gain early release.
"I have to deal with it, and whatever it is, that's what I'm going to do," Wershe said.
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.
Why does Wershe owe time in Florida?
While he was in a Michigan prison 11 years ago, Wershe introduced his sister, Dawn, to a car salesman. It turned into a stolen car ring, and Wershe pleaded guilty to protect his sister and mother from criminal charges.
"They said, 'Listen, this is what we're going to do. If you don't take this plea, we are going to arrest your mom and your sister,'" Wershe said. "It was a forced plea. I don't agree I committed the crime that I was convicted of."
Wershe walked out of a Michigan prison and into a prison transport van. Wershe's attorney argued they are dangerous and inhumane, as Wershe has made the trip to Florida by prison van once before.
"It's hell on wheels," Wershe said. "I was on one for a week, and it's the most traumatic part of almost 30 years in prison."
Wershe's time since being paroled doesn't count for the time he still owes in Florida. That time doesn't start counting down until Florida picks him up. Even though he was dreading the transport process, Wershe said he wanted to start as soon as possible.