Sunday, May 8, 2016

Rick Wershe’s Struggle Reflects the Nation’s Struggle with the War on Drugs

Rolling Stone magazine was out this past week with a story about the failed War on Drugs. The headline read, Why America Can’t Quit the Drug War. The article is noteworthy because the life prison sentence for Richard J. Wershe, Jr. remains in effect for many of the same reasons the nation can’t give up its failed drug “war.”

The subheading of the Rolling Stone article states, “After 45 years, more than $1 trillion wasted, and the creation of the world's largest prison system, America still lacks the political will to change its failed drug policy.”

That also partly explains why Rick Wershe is still behind bars, 28 years after he was sentenced to life in prison at age 18 for a non-violent drug offense.

Despite Barack Obama’s showy efforts to do something about mass incarceration tied to drug convictions, despite his talk about the need to treat drug addiction as a health problem and not a policing problem, his budget suggests otherwise.

As the magazine piece notes: “…the Drug War is costing taxpayers more than ever. Obama's 2017 drug budget seeks $31 billion, an increase of 25 percent from when he took office. This year, the federal government is spending more than $1,100 per person to combat the habit of America's 27 million illicit-drug users, and 22 million of them use marijuana.”

In the next paragraph, there is another nugget: “The blinkered drug-warrior culture in the ranks of the departments of Justice, State and Defense remains similarly entrenched.”

The same can be said of Rick Wershe’s “entrenched” reputation as a “drug lord” and “kingpin.” It’s not true, as this blog has proven many times. But his reputation is so “entrenched” that no one—not judges, not the media, not the Department of Corrections Parole Board, and certainly not any prosecutors—has the moral courage or backbone to say, ‘Wait a minute! There’s a chorus of people saying it isn’t true. In the interest of justice maybe we should make an effort to do a little open-minded investigating.'

You see, the interest of justice always, always, always takes a back seat to politics. NO ONE wants to appear “soft on crime.” Politicians and judges campaign on being “tough on crime.” This is funny because the system is forever releasing repeat offenders and psychopaths on parole, to rape, maim, rob and kill again. Yet they won’t order an honest and unbiased review of the case of Rick Wershe and others like him who are rotting year after year in costly prison cells—for nothing other than systemic inertia and fear of looking weak on crime.

But! But! But! It’s says here he was a major figure in Detroit’s drug underworld! Well, what is ‘says there’ is, to put it bluntly, bullshit. That has been demonstrated over and over each week during the past year by Informant America. This refusal to take a second look at the facts of the Wershe case represents either a violation of his civil rights against cruel and unusual punishment or a dereliction of duty—or both.

Here are the faces of the names of the primary “public servants” who are making a mockery of justice in the Wershe case:

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy-Justice seems to take a back seat to other considerations. (AP Photo)

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy tops the list. With every day that passes she shows “the interests of justice” don’t mean anything to her. She’s already admitted, in writing, her office doesn’t have any documentation to support the drug lord accusations against Wershe. Maybe it’s because freeing Wershe would be an embarrassment for her office after years of claiming he’s a menace to society when she knows that’s a lie. Maybe it’s because she’s loyal to the Detroit Black Coalition that put her in office and keeps her there. The black power clique despises Wershe because he helped the FBI prosecute corrupt Detroit cops and Mayor Young’s brother-in-law. Maybe it’s because he’s a white male and Worthy is a reverse-bias proponent of blacks-only “justice.” Or maybe it’s all of the above.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette-Provably false accusations against Rick Wershe in a federal court lawsuit ought to raise serious questions about the job he is doing in behalf of the People of Michigan. He's either responsible or irresponsible.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has fought a Wershe lawsuit in Grand Rapids federal court (it has jurisdiction because he’s in a prison on that side of the state) with provably false information. His case against Wershe is so riddled with errors he can’t even get the defendant right in citing Wershe’s crimes to the federal judge. He’s told the judge Wershe was convicted of a crime that is blatantly false. Voters have to wonder; if he’s this sloppy with a high profile case, what other atrocities against the notion of justice have happened under him? Schuette has dreams of being Michigan’s next governor and it’s a safe bet he intends to campaign on his tough-on-crime track record. Never mind that this 20-30-year old scare tactic hasn’t rid the state of crime. It still occurs even though 20% of Michigan’s tax dollars go to maintaining the “corrections” system.

Judge Gordon Quist, U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan-his abuse of judicial discretion in the Rick Wershe case could be a case study in law schools.

U.S. District Court judge Gordon Quist of Grand Rapids has abused his judicial discretion in the Wershe case and makes a mockery of the notion that federal court is the court of last resort for those seeking justice. Quist was irritated with Wershe's civil rights lawsuit from the get-go. He never took the time to hold a hearing. He never allowed Wershe's attorney to have "discovery" so he could amass factual evidence to prove his case. Quist threw the case out as "frivolous" and wanted to impose financial penalties on Ralph Musilli, Wershe's attorney, for even filing the lawsuit. Musilli appealed and the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed Quist should take a closer look. After months of ignoring the higher court's rebuke, Quist had a lower-level federal magistrate engage in legal acrobatics to "find" that he should not give this case any serious attention. Abuse of power by federal judges is a seldom-explored flaw in the criminal justice system. Injustices are inflicted in federal courts every day and Gordon Quist stands as an example of that.  

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder-he has the power to correct injustices and inequities in Michigan's Corrections system but he consistently fails to act, just as he failed to act in the Flint water crisis until it became a national scandal. (Photo-Carlos Osorio, AP)

 Governor Rick Snyder has the power to pardon prisoners or commute sentences but he consistently turns his back on prison/prisoner matters. Clearly he doesn’t care about the issue or the people. Perhaps he’s too busy trying to persuade the government of China to buy controlling equity stakes in Michigan’s key economic sectors. Snyder has washed his hands of responsibility in pardon and commutation cases. For his sake, the voters can hope he didn’t wash his hands with water from Flint. 

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