In 1988, at just 17, Detroit, Michigan resident Rick Wershe Jr. was sentenced to life in prison for cocaine distribution. It was the end of the Reagan Era. That year, George H.W. Bush became the president-elect and a gallon of gas cost 91 cents. And, the infamous White Boy Rick was born.
Wershe has spent 29 years behind bars for cocaine distribution. Now aged 49, he’s still in prison today for a crime he committed as a minor. Some say his sentencing was unfair.
A movie about White Boy Rick will soon hit movie screens. Is this the beginning of more talks about the school-to-prison pipeline?
Facts About White Boy Rick: The Youngest FBI Informant Ever
Rick Wershe Jr., commonly known as White Boy Rick, achieved notoriety for a number of reasons:
- He was the youngest FBI informant ever, recruited at only 14
- He did more time than any other juvenile offender convicted of a non-violent crime in the entire State of Michigan
- He remains in prison while people he helped convict were released long ago
- His career as an FBI informant ended abruptly when his handlers dropped him after they became worried his age would come to the attention of their superiors
White Boy Rick also provided sensitive intel about the cover-up of the murder of a 13-year-old boy. This cover-up allegedly involved celebrated Police Homicide Inspector Gilbert ‘Gil’ Hill, who was never charged with a crime.
FBI Transforms White Boy Rick from Informant to Drug Dealer
After his FBI informant career ended, Wershe became a successful drug dealer while still in his teens.
It was actually law enforcement who taught him how to deal drugs. Some say if they hadn’t, Wershe may never have become involved with drugs at all, since he was only a teen.
White Boy Rick: Teen Given No Consideration for Illegal Cooperation
His activities brought him into connection with high-profile underworld figures and corrupt cops. In hopes of getting out of prison, Wershe informed on many people while incarcerated for cocaine distribution.
But this did not affect his sentence. The FBI recruited Wershe through his father, who was a hustler and also an FBI informant.
Many people have spoken out against the many years he’s spent behind bars. A teen dad when he was sentenced, White Boy Rick is now a grandfather.
White Boy Rick Gets Parole from Michigan
Since he’s been in prison, Michigan’s laws have changed. Juvenile offenders can no longer receive life sentences without parole, unless the crime involved murder.
But, in November 2017, Detroit Free Press reported:
A year and a half after the Supreme Court ruled that all juvenile lifers across the nation should have the opportunity to be re-sentenced and come home, fewer than 10% of those in Michigan — a total of 34, including Hines — have been discharged.
Why Is White Boy Rick Still in Prison After Being Paroled?
White Boy Rick was arrested for possession of 8 kilograms of cocaine and sentenced to life in prison as a juvenile in the State of Michigan.
In 2017, the Michigan Parole Board granted him parole for this crime
However, he was then turned over to Florida for a crime he committed while he was serving time in a Michigan state prison. Authorities say he participated in a stolen car ring.
Wershe claims he only introduced his sister, who was raising his child, to a car salesman. The famous prisoner claims he only pleaded guilty to save his mother and sister from being charged.
Famous Prisoners: White Boy Rick Makes It to the Big Screen
A documentary about his life, White Boy, was released last year. Finally, someone took the time to care about this tragedy.
And, a movie starring Matthew McConaughey as Rick Wershe, Sr., White Boy’s father, had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival.
White Boy Rick The Movie Trailer
The White Boy Rick movie chronicles the incredible story behind Rick Wershe Jr.’s journey through the school-to-prison pipeline.
Watch out for White Boy Rick the movie in cinemas on September 14.
Check out the trailer video of the White Boy Rick movie below:
Some believe that releasing a movie about the story that got Wershe sentenced to life in prison would bring more awareness to the school-to-prison pipeline. Advocates hoped it would show how this teen was actually innocent in some way.
However, Variety’s review of the movie titled White Boy Rick reads:
Scuzzy and surprisingly unsympathetic, this true story of a 14-year-old recruited by authorities never quite makes the case for its drug-dealing subject’s innocence.
Rick Wershe Jr. is due to be released from the Florida state prison where he’s currently serving time in 2021.
He may never get the recognition he deserves for the FBI agents who used him as a teen. But, at least he’s getting his own movie, even if it doesn’t quite hit its mark.