A man serving a life sentence for nonviolent marijuana offenses will be released from prison today, after 21 years behind bars.
Jeff Mizanskey was given a life sentence without parole in Missouri after his third marijuana-related offense. According to the state’s ‘three-strikes’ mandatory sentencing policy, Mizanskey was sentenced as a “prior and persistent offender.”
According to an online petition created by Mizanskey’s son Chris, his final strike occurred when he “became an easy fall guy in a conspiracy to distribute marijuana.”
“My dad was driving a friend to a deal that turned out to be a sting operation. All of the other convicted men involved were set free years ago, but my dad was given a virtual death sentence.”
The petition garnered nearly 400,000 signatures, and the association Show-Me Cannabis mounted a major public opinion campaign to free Mizanskey. Billboards encouraged the public to put pressure on Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to release him.
Several Missouri lawmakers began advocating for Mizanskey’s release, and in May, Gov. Nixon announced he would commute Mizanskey’s sentence. The statute under which Mizanskey was convicted has also been repealed, effective in January 2017.
Mizanskey says he won’t smoke marijuana again as long as it remains illegal at the federal level. Jeff said he promised his mother before she died that he would do everything in his power to get out of prison.
“I’d never do anything knowingly to break the law to get put back in.”
Show-Me Cannabis has started a ‘coming-home’ fund for Jeff. To date, it has raised more than $7,000 of its $25,000 goal.
Photo Credit: Michael Coghlan