(WJBK) - Rick Wershe, also known as "White Boy Rick" has been waiting 30 years for a chance at freedom. On Friday, the infamous drug dealer turned informant has another opportunity for parole. People look at non-violent drug offenses a lot differently than 20 and 30 years ago.
There have been reforms to tough state drug laws mandating life sentences and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled life sentences for juveniles, which Wershe was when he was convicted, are unconstitutional.
All of that, as well as the unique factors in Wershe's case could play a role in the parole board setting him free.
The drug dealer known as White Boy Rick is staring down Decision Day. Ten parole board members will vote on his freedom after spending 29 years in prison.
"He deserves to be out," said Darlene McCormick, his mother. "I've been to visit him many times and had compliments from guards of how good he is. He needs to get out."
Wershe's mother spoke with reporters after his parole hearing in June.
Wershe made an impassioned plea for his release saying: "I know the drugs I sold destroyed people's lives. I can't take it back. It's destroyed my life. I'll never sell drugs again."
A Wayne County jury convicted Wershe of possession with the intent to deliver more than 650 grams of cocaine in 1987. He was 17 years old when he was sent to prison for the rest of his life. The U.S. Supreme Court recently deemed life sentences for juveniles unconstitutional.
Wershe worked as an informant for Detroit police and the FBI while selling crack cocaine. Former agents have since come to his defense.
"I don't know of anybody that I've dealt with over the years and I've been in now associated with the FBI going on now 46 years," said Gregg Schwarz, retired FBI agent. "I've never seen anybody cooperate like Richard Wershe. He literally had the safety of undercover agents in the palm of his hand and he always did the right thing."
Wershe would likely be released from prison in august if at least six parole board members vote in his favor. If released he may have to serve another 22 months in a Florida prison for his involvement in a car theft scheme.
M.L. Elrick will be in Lansing for the decision Friday and watch for updates on the FOX 2 Facebook page.