If the Parole Board votes to consider Wershe for parole, the next step will be a notice of a public hearing where witnesses get to testify whether he should or shouldn't be granted parole. A spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections has stated this is likely to occur in early June, which happens to be just days before an important court date in Wershe's battle for parole.
|Rick Wershe with some of the art work he has done while in prison.|
The case started in federal court in Grand Rapids because Wershe is in prison on the western side of the state and the Grand Rapids federal court covers that territory.
|Ralph Musilli and Paul Louisell, Rick Wershe's attorneys|
The onus is now on the State of Michigan to explain why Wershe hasn’t been afforded a meaningful opportunity for parole. His only real parole consideration was in 2003 and that was a kangaroo court sham hearing that appeared rigged to ensure Wershe remained in prison. False and conflicting testimony was not questioned or challenged by the Michigan Parole Board in 2003. Wershe has been up for parole consideration roughly every five years but they keep “flopping” him with a terse “no interest” response to the issue of releasing Wershe. As Musilli puts it, they’ve been extending Wershe’s life sentence five years at a time.
Regardless of what the Parole Board does, the habeas corpus action will likely move forward for an important reason for Wershe. If the Detroit federal judge agrees with Wershe's lawyers, he could order that Wershe be re-sentenced as Michigan has done for hundreds of other inmates in light of various court rulings about sentencing juveniles to long prison terms for non-violent offenses. Wershe was 17 when he was arrested, 18 when he was sentenced to life in prison.
If he is re-sentenced, and his trial judge, Dana Hathaway of Wayne County Circuit Court has indicated a belief that he should be re-sentenced, that will mean, in effect, he's over-served time behind bars and he won't be subject to several years of probation and supervision. That would be a big burden off Wershe's shoulders. So the habeas corpus battle has some important stakes for Wershe regardless of what the Parole Board does with his case.
The increased media interest in the White Boy Rick story; including this blog, including a Hollywood movie based loosely on his story, the continued interest of Wershe’s many citizen supporters and the relentless efforts of his lifelong friend, Dave Majkowski, who manages the Free Rick Wershe Facebook page; all of these things have added to keeping the spotlight on this case of a man who is a political prisoner.