Sunday, December 17, 2017

About My Book - Prisoner of War: The Story of White Boy Rick and the War on Drugs

This blog is going on hiatus for a while.

As some readers know, I’ve been working on a book about the 46-year, trillion-dollar policy failure we call the War on Drugs. The central figure in this sorry tale is Richard J. Wershe, Jr., known in repeated media smears as White Boy Rick. What happened to him has happened over and over in this criminal justice fiasco.

Prisoner of War: The Story of White Boy Rick and the War on Drugs is a down-in-the-trenches look at our national failure to stop the relentless flow of illegal drugs and how people like Richard Wershe, Jr. became victims in this lost cause.
Rick Wershe, Jr. is a Prisoner of War, and he has been, going on thirty years.

Richard J. Wershe, Jr. (Photo: Florida Dept. of Corrections)

He admits he screwed up by trying to become a cocaine wholesaler. But it was law enforcement that introduced him to this dirty nether world in the first place. They taught him how to sling dope and inform on people and when his whispers about powerful people got too hot, they dumped him. As a juvenile with no parental supervision, he made the stupid decision to join the people he had been telling on. When he got caught, powerful people in the criminal justice system made sure he stayed buried alive in prison. As his lawyer has often said, Rick told on the wrong people.

The Informant America blog has recounted the Rick Wershe, Jr. story in great detail, but Prisoner of War: The Story of White Boy Rick and the War on Drugs shows how he became a soldier, then a prisoner in this losing war that has been based on government lies and false claims of numerous “victories.” The book explores the extent of the failure of the War on Drugs. Rick Wershe, Jr. is one example.

This country has been waging a “war” on the sale and use of mind-altering substances since the middle of the 1800s. For a while, we called it Prohibition. It didn’t work then and it isn’t working now. The government has flat-out lied for years through successive Presidencies and Congresses about “progress” and “victories” in the War on Drugs.

I will be developing a website for the book and it will offer a wide range of information about Rick Wershe and the War on Drugs. These blog posts will be in an archive on that website.
Prisoner of War: The Story of White Boy Rick and the War on Drugs will go on sale in 2018.

In the meantime, Rick Wershe, through his family and friends, is trying to do right by the community, to give back after causing so much pain during his brief time as a dope slinger.

His holiday food drive continues to be a success. His lifelong pal, Dave Majkowski, reported the fall food drive for the needy collected over $3-thousand in donations, which were used to buy hundreds of pounds of ground beef, chicken, milk, eggs and other badly needed food items for the hungry. Dave says the food drive will likely resume in the New Year. You can stay up to speed on this by regularly checking the Free Richard Wershe,Jr. Facebook page. Or you can donate directly to Rick’s food drive for the needy by contacting Pamela Dickerson at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 13031 Chandler Park Dr., Detroit, MI 48213. The telephone number at the church is: (313) 821-2380.

A small portion of the food for the needy purchased with your donations to the Rick Wershe, Jr. food drive. (Photo: Courtesy Free Richard Wershe, Jr.-Facebook)

One last note for now:
Rick has been moved to a new “facility” in Florida. He’s now at the Putnam prison in East Palatka, Florida. It’s about 60 miles south of Jacksonville in the northeast section of Florida.
Here’s how to write to him. Be sure to include his inmate number on the envelope and at the top of your letter or note:

Richard J. Wershe, Jr.
Putnam Correctional Institution
128 Yelvington Road
East Palatka, Florida 32131-2112

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Sunday, December 3, 2017

A Long Letter from Rick—Third and Final Part

Communicating with Rick Wershe, Jr. is more difficult, now that he is doing time in a prison in Florida. In late October he sent me a long letter to share with the many readers of Informant America. He knows people are interested to hear how he is doing. The last blog post and the one before that covered other topics from Rick’s letter. Before concluding his observations about life in a Florida prison, I have to do a correction.

I made a mistake. In the last Informant America blog post (A Long Letter from Rick—Part 2) I got one thing wrong. I was explaining that the Florida Department of Corrections appears totally focused on punishment, as opposed to corrections, that is, in correcting criminal behavior and trying to rehabilitate inmates so they can be productive members of society. Apparently, that’s a namby-pamby idea in the Sunshine State. 

Here’s a portion of what I wrote:

You can learn a lot about the crime and punishment attitudes of each state by doing an Internet search of their “Corrections” Department websites.
 Allow me to show you an example of what I’m talking about. If you think Rick Wershe is being wussy in his complaining about the Florida Department of Corrections, I invite you to do the following Google search:

Fire up Google and enter the following: Florida Department of Corrections Photos.

The first thing you get is this:

Click on it. It will take you to a page of “high resolution” images of—Death Row. You will find 23 images—all related to executing prisoners.

I included a “high resolution” image of a death row gurney and wrote it was from Florida’s gas chamber. A reader who sounds like he may be one of the Florida prison guards wrote to me to set me straight.

Florida's "Execution Chamber 1" (Photo: Florida Dept. of Corrections)

“Yo Vinnie, I get that your up there in age but that is no excuse not to check your facts before making the State of Florida sound like some backwards third world country when it comes to applying the dp. Specifically, there is No Gas Chamber. Condemned inmates can choose between the electric chair (no one has done such yet this century) or the preferred lethal injection method.”

So, I stand corrected.

Before I ”…make Florida sound like some backwards third world country when it comes to applying the “dp” (death penalty)…”, the photo of the gurney with the wrist and ankle straps to keep an inmate’s limbs from flailing around during the throes of death should be noted as a gurney for lethal injection, not gas.

Restraints on a Florida Death Row gurney (Photo: Florida Dept. of Corrections)

Allow me to try to make my point again. Apparently, some people didn’t get it.

Here’s a state “Corrections” department which chooses to feature “high resolution” images of their death chamber when you go searching for photos of their prison system. 

No photos of education classes. No photos of inmate intramural sports. Nothing to show rehabilitation. Nothing to showcase “corrections.” Just death row. In high resolution, don’tcha know.

If you work at it, you can find other Florida Department of Corrections photos of guards and their attack dogs who have won competition trophies and a photo or two of guards in full battle gear, ready to kick ass and take names.

So, to the reader who wants me to get my facts straight—okay. Your death row strap-down gurney is for lethal injection, not gas. Glad to know Florida doesn’t run its prisons like some third-world country.

On to the last comments from Rick’s letter...

Rick Wershe is classified as a minimum-security inmate, a guy who doesn’t cause trouble. But he’s not in what civilians would think of as a minimum-security prison:

"Even though I am a minimum-security inmate, I am in a unit with lifers and guys doing 100’s of years," Wershe writes.

In the prison culture, he writes, this isn't a good mix: "You have to watch yourself at all times, especially when they know you are only doing 30 months or so."

It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out that some guy who’s in the joint for life and who has nothing to lose may try to cause trouble for—and with—a guy who’s a short-timer.

“An inmate with a short sentence does far different time than a lifer,” Wershe said. 

“That’s one thing I never let myself become. I always planned on getting out, so I never let prison take over my life as so many do. It’s one of the very sad parts of prison, when you just give up and let this become your life and your world.”

Rick Wershe writes he is trying to keep a positive attitude:

“Just hoping for better times in the near future and hoping I can get moved to a minimum-security place and be around others who are on their way home and don’t want to get in any trouble.”

He adds: “All I want to do is do whatever time I have to do and get on with my life.”

For the latest information see What's New on