Sunday, May 22, 2016
Election year craziness: an opportunity for Rick Wershe?
It’s an election year, in case you haven’t noticed. That means candidates up and down the ballot must at least give the appearance of listening to the voters. Many people are interested in the trials and tribulations of prison lifer Richard J. Wershe, Jr., who got a raw deal by any rational measure. This blog, which reports almost exclusively on the Wershe case, has had over 92,000 page views. This translates in to some potential political clout. This week’s post is about organizations interested in reforming our messed up “corrections” system. Let’s hasten to add this isn’t a knock on the staff at the prisons. It’s a knock on the policies and top-level administration. It won’t change unless someone—you—are willing to step up and be heard.
Anyone who reads Informant America regularly, or even occasionally, knows Rick Wershe’s life sentence for a non-violent drug conviction when he was 18 years old is more about politics than it is about law and order.
He was recruited at age 14 to help the FBI in the War on Drugs. Without strong guidance Wershe made some bad decisions and wound up with a life prison sentence. Over the years it has become obvious there are forces who want to keep Wershe in prison no matter what the facts or anything he may have done to become a better citizen. As Rick Wershe has said numerous times, “I told on the wrong people.” They were people with political connections.
In a very real sense, it’s going to take some political will to set him free. Therefore, anyone who wants to do more than just wish him well should consider exercising a citizen’s right to show interest in politics. In this case, corrections reform in Michigan.
The Wershe case, taken by itself, will not move the needle in the statehouse in Lansing. But if enough people show the politicians his case is a shining (perhaps that’s not the right word) example of what is wrong with law and order and corrections “reform” in Michigan.
You don’t have to become a sign-waver at rallies, although that’s fine. There is nothing wrong, nothing at all, in asking questions and showing some interest in the making or reforming of laws. It’s called exercising your right as a citizen. Here are some places to ask questions:
CAPPS—Citizens Alliance on Prisons & Public Spending
This outfit is serious about the things that are wrong with Michigan’s Corrections system and they are state-based, not national.
You are invited to explore their Web site (www.capps-mi.org/) and decide for yourself. They even have sample letters of support if you’d like to help.
Their phone number is:
(517) 482-7753. Their email address is:
LEAP—Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
This is an interesting national organization of current and former police officers who agree the War on Drugs hasn’t worked. They correctly liken the War on Drugs to Prohibition in the 1920s, with about the same degree of success. You may find it interesting to read some of their positions on their Web site (www.leap.cc/) Note that their domain name ends in “cc” not .com.
Several former and current Michigan police officers are listed as participants under “Find A Speaker.” If you have enough people for an audience it may be worth everyone’s time to ask them to send a speaker.
Their email address is:
Right on Crime
This is a project of the Texas Public Policy Foundation with chapters nationwide, including Michigan. It is, as the name suggests, a conservative policy organization which views current imprisonment policy as incredibly wasteful of tax dollars. They boast support from the likes of Newt Gingrich and Grover Norquist. Their Web site (rightoncrime.com) offers insight in to their view of prison reform issues.
It’s not clear how active their Michigan operation is in 2016 but you can contact their Communications Director to find out. His name is Dan Isettat. His telephone number is: (512) 472-2700.
His email address is:
Rick’s lifelong friend, Dave Majkowski, who maintains the Free Richard Wershe Jr. Facebook page suggests you check out Can-Do: Justice through Clemency. The Web Site (www.candoclemency.com) for this California-based organization is robust and shows some serious effort.
They have a form you can fill out to get in touch:
Of course, nothing says you can’t contact your Michigan representative or state senator yourself. They won’t bite. They won’t put you on a get-even list. Heck, they might even respond to a constituent. Stranger things have happened.