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May 28, 2014

Paul Ryan joins chorus of GOP young guns supporting sentencing reform and Smarter Sentencing Act

Tucked within this interesting Daily Beast discussion of (former VP candidate) Representative Paul Ryan's war on poverty tour is the revelation that Ryan is now the latest prominent GOP official to support reform of federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws. As the article recounts:

I asked the representative from Janesville, Wisconsin, if he could reflect on a previously held ideological view that had changed over the course of his learning tour.

Without hesitation, Ryan delved into the need to reform federal sentencing guidelines. “I think our sentencing guidelines need to be revisited with an eye towards what actually works to make sure a person can hit their upward potential,” Ryan said. “Is it better to send someone to a successfully proven drug rehab program so they can knock the habit and get back on their feet again, or is it [better to] put them away for 16 years?”

Reflecting on past congressional efforts to limit discretion on the part of federal judges in imposing strict sentences—a reflection that will be sure to raise eyebrows in the House Republican Cloakroom—Ryan said: “I think we had a trend in America for a long time on mandatory minimums where we took away discretion from judges. I think there’s an appreciation that that approach has some collateral damage—that that approach is missing in many ways…I think there is a new appreciation that we need to give judges more discretion in these areas.”

Specifically, Ryan hailed the bipartisan work of Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) to dramatically overhaul the federal sentencing guideline structure now in place. Dubbed the “Smarter Sentencing Act,” the legislation, which passed the Senate Judiciary Committee this year, would cut mandatory minimum sentences in half for certain drug offenses. It also would reduce crack cocaine penalties retroactive to 2010 and expand the discretion of federal judges to sentence defendants in certain cases to less time in jail than mandatory minimum guidelines permit.

Some older and recent posts on the "new politics" of sentencing reform:

May 28, 2014 at 10:42 AM | Permalink

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Hello, I am a childhood friend of Rick Wershe. I am trying to get exposure to his case.

Rick Wershe, better known to the public as "White Boy Rick", is currently serving a life prison sentence in the Michigan Department of Corrections for a single drug possession conviction from January 1988. When he was arrested he was only 17 years old. Newly uncovered evidence proves he was led into the life of being a teenage drug dealer by the federal government. Rick was recruited by a narcotics task force made up by the FBI, DEA, and several Detroit Police Department detectives in 1984 as a 14 year old juvenile, encouraged to drop out of high school and eventually put to work as a paid undercover operative in some of the state's most dangerous criminal organizations for the next three years.
Following his conviction, he was sentenced under Michigan's ultra-tough "650-Lifer Law", a law erased from the books in 1998, allowing him to be eligible for parole.In the three times before the parole board in the last decade, he's been rejected every time. As of 2012, he was the only minor sentenced under that law in the whole Michigan prison system that remains behind bars. He is also the only person in the country convicted as a minor for a non violent crime facing the prospect of serving a life sentence.
In the 25 years Rick has been incarcerated, he has cooperated with law enforcement extensively. Prosecutors have said that without his help, the largest police corruption case in Detroit's history would not have been possible. Some of the people ending up being convicted included members of Coleman Young's family.
Rick's situation doesn't feel right in many ways. This site will hopefully educate people who are unfamiliar with his situation , however isn't intended for "fans" to glamorize or endorse his behavior.
Once a boy who made a mistake, Rick is now simply a man in his mid-40's in search of a second chance.

http://www.thefix.com/content/story-white-boy-rick-richard-wershe-detroit-corruption70041?page=all

http://www.ticklethewire.com/2013/09/11/column-the-michigan-parole-boards-crime-against-white-boy-rick/

http://www.deadlinedetroit.com/articles/6448/steve_fishman_parole_board_lacks_guts_to_free_white_boy_rick

http://www.detroitsports1051.com/drewlanepodcast/2014/01/15/white-boy-rick-from-oaks-correctional-facility

http://www.deadlinedetroit.com/articles/466/white_boy_rick_time_to_set_him_free

This is a letter from a retired Detroit police officer to the Michigan Parole Board in June, 2012. -> http://i1369.photobucket.com/albums/ag220/Dave_Majkowski/greene_zps6423a7e5.jpg

This is a letter to the Michigan Parole Board from a former FBI agent who worked directly with Rick Wershe when he was working undercover for them and the Detroit Police Department. He is someone who knows the truth and is not afraid to speak up. -> http://i1369.photobucket.com/albums/ag220/Dave_Majkowski/gregg_zps8013fa8f.jpg

https://www.facebook.com/freewhiteboyrickwershe
http://www.change.org/petitions/free-white-boy-rick-wershe
http://freerickwershe.com/Home_Page.html
https://twitter.com/freerickwershe

Posted by: Dave Majkowski | May 28, 2014 9:36:57 PM

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In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB