In September of last year, Truth in Media highlighted the plight of Jeff Mizanskey, a Missouri grandfather who had been sentenced to life in prison without parole for three non-violent marijuana convictions under Missouri’s since-repealed, three-strikes style Prior and Persistent Drug Offender statute. The 62-year-old low-level pot dealer had been caught in a tough-on-crime loophole as Missouri’s only inmate serving a life sentence for non-violent pot convictions.
Jeff Mizanskey told KTVI that, during his almost 22 years in prison, he has “seen guys who committed murder go, and come back, and go again.” Now, St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting that Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has unexpectedly commuted Mizanskey’s sentence, rendering him eligible for parole immediately.
According to Riverfront Times, Governor Nixon said, “The executive power to grant clemency is one I take with a great deal of consideration and seriousness. In the case of the commutation, my action provides Jeff Mizanskey with the opportunity to demonstrate that he deserves parole.”
Aaron Malin, a local activist for the group Show Me Cannabis who is in contact with Mizanskey, described Mizanskey’s parole chances and said, “In almost 22 years he had two write-ups, one for putting mail in the wrong slot and one for a messy floor. Tell me that’s not a model prisoner. No fights, no nothing. Tell me that’s not a model prisoner.”
Republican Representative Shamed Dogan, who authored a letter signed by approximately 130 other Missouri legislators asking Governor Nixon to grant clemency for Mizanskey, said, “I am just glad the governor did the right things. Drug addicts, drug users need rehabilitation before they need incarceration.” A Change.org petition begging for Mizanskey’s release has been signed by almost 400,000 people.
Missouri Department of Corrections spokesman David Owen told Riverfront Times that Mizanskey will have a parole hearing this summer and should find out whether parole will be granted within three to six weeks of the hearing.
In September of last year, Ben Swann released a Truth in Media episode on the federal government’s mixed messages on cannabis. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.