DETROIT - "White Boy" Rick Wershe's request for a three-day pass from imprisonment has been denied by a Florida judge who said he will not be allowed to turn himself in.
Instead, if Wershe is going to serve time in a Florida prison, he will board a prison bus in Michigan and be transported to Florida.
Wershe has spent 29 years in prison after being arrested at 17 years old for drug possession in Michigan. He's now 48 years old, and even though he will be freed in Michigan soon, he's facing a two- to three-year sentence behind bars in Florida for a crime he committed while he was locked up.
Wershe hoped he would get a couple of days with his family before going to Florida, but the judge said no.
Why does Wershe owe time in Florida?
Wershe was granted parole after a hearing with the Michigan Parole Board this year, but true freedom could still be two or three years away.
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."
Now that Wershe will be freed in Michigan, it's time to pay the price in Florida. Last week, Wershe's attorney asked the Florida court for a furlough to turn himself in, which would save Florida money and give Wershe 36 hours of freedom before service his time.
"The court is of the firm opinion that no such authority exists," a judge said in a written order. "Even if the matter were discretionary with the court, the court will not grant this furlough request after a review of the merits. There is no need for further argument."
Wershe dreads transport to Florida
As it stands, Wershe will walk 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."
Before the trip, Wershe will have an extradition hearing in Michigan. It's a formality, as Florida will show it has the right to take him. Wershe said he's not planning to fight the extradition.
Wershe's time since being paroled last month doesn't county for the time he still owes in Florida. That time doesn't start counting down until Florida picks him up. Even though he is dreading the transport process, Wershe said he wants to start as soon as possible.
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