Sunday, November 5, 2017

A long letter from Rick


Richard Wershe, Jr. is in a Florida prison serving the remainder of a jail term for a conviction in a car fraud and theft case. He was transferred to Florida after the Michigan Parole Board granted him a parole from a life prison term for a non-violent drug conviction when he was 18. He spent 29 1/2 years behind bars for the drug case. Wershe had been an FBI informant and he told on the wrong people, politically powerful people, who fought to keep him in prison until he died. He cost them a lot of money by telling the FBI about them. Communication with Wershe in Florida is difficult but recently he sent a lengthy letter…

I have not been able to communicate directly with Rick Wershe since mid-July. Communicating with inmates in the Florida prison system is difficult, even for defense attorneys.

When Wershe was assigned to a prison in Florida and I had an actual address, I sent him a letter. He sent a reply letter that runs several pages. It will be the basis for several Informant America blogs. In my letter to Rick I told him many people remain interested in his story. As of this weekend, the number of page views for Informant America numbers close to 344-thousand. The previous post, about Rick’s new “home” in Florida had over 65-hundred views.

I explained to Rick that people want to know what’s up with him. So, I’m going to quote from his letter because he knows people are interested.


This is Rick Wershe's Florida inmate photo (Florida Dept. of Corrections)


Rick is in prison culture shock and he doesn’t mind saying so. “My new residence,” Rick writes, “Wow. Culture shock! No one should ever complain about a MI (Michigan) prison again!”

Wershe spent years at the Oaks Correctional Facility in Manistee on the western side of Michigan. There, he was in a security unit separated from the rest of the inmate population. He was in there with others who had been informants in important cases or they had been police officers or prosecutors or judges who might be in physical danger in the general inmate population.

Wershe had his own private cell. It was small, but it was his space. He had a little TV just for himself. Oaks has a restricted cable TV system but Rick could choose to watch what he wanted on the available channels, when he wanted. Not so in Florida.

The prison where he is locked up in Florida has “2-man cells with nothing in them, 2 bunks and 2 metal footlockers (plus) a metal sink and toilet.” He says both are old and “not very clean.” His letter continues, “Put it this way—in the last 29 ½ years I did (in prison), I have never lived like this.”


Most inmates in Florida prisons live in dorms. They have a bed and a footlocker and nothing else. This is not the prison where Rick Wershe is housed. (Photo-Florida Dept. of Corrections.

As for watching TV, there’s no private set in the cell. Wershe has to go to a “TV room” and watch one TV shared by “90 guys.” He says about half the inmates in his unit go to the TV room to watch the news, sports and maybe a few network TV shows. “Sure miss my own cell and own TV, no matter how small it was!” Rick writes.

Rick has had some difficulty just walking around. “The State of Florida issues you shoes that are like those “Croc sandals.” Inmates have to walk around in them until they can buy gym shoes, which takes about 2 months or so.”

Inmates have a dilemma. There aren’t work details where they can earn money, so accumulating cash for things like gym shoes can be a challenge. No, you can’t help Rick by sending him a pair. He has to wear prison-issue garb. Still, he’s anxious to get some canvas gym shoes because the prison-issue croc sandals, “made my feet swell walking in them, but you have no choice.”

There’s more in Rick’s letter and it will be shared in the next Informant America post.

***

If you want to send Rick a letter he would undoubtedly like to hear from you. But be aware the prison staff carefully reads all mail: going out and coming in. It would be wise to keep that in mind when writing a letter. Don’t forget to include his inmate number in the address:

Mr. Richard J. Wershe, Jr.
No. K70365
Columbia Correctional Institution

216 SE Corrections Way, Lake City, FL 32025

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