Tag Archives: Jeff Mizanskey

Mo. Grandfather, Once Condemned to Life in Prison Without Parole for Pot, Walks Free

62-year-old Missouri grandfather Jeff Mizanskey walked out of the Jefferson City Correctional Center on Tuesday, where he was met by a cheering crowd of friends and family members.

21 years earlier, Mizanskey had been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for three non-violent marijuana convictions under Missouri’s since-repealed, three-strikes style Prior and Persistent Drug Offender statute. However, passionate and relentless protests by supporters led elected officials in Missouri to intervene, climaxing in Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s May commutation of Mizanskey’s sentence, which granted him the opportunity for parole. In August, Missouri’s Board of Probation and Parole reviewed his case and approved his parole request.

According to KRCG-TV, Mizanskey said that he plans to continue his advocacy of cannabis legalization and prison reform and wants to get back to work remodeling homes. He recommended that prisons provide inmates with training in information technology careers to help their chances of reintegrating into society after their release.

The newly-freed Mizanskey reportedly dined on steak and eggs with friends and family at a local restaurant after leaving the maximum security prison in which he had been imprisoned for over two decades.

The Free Jeff Mizanskey Facebook page celebrated his freedom by posting several pictures of him following his release, including a picture, seen below, captioned, “Getting some food and meeting his great granddaughter.

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In the original Change.org petition that supporters used to drum up support for his release, Mizanskey’s son Chris wrote, “While my dad has been trapped behind bars, generations of kids and grandkids have been born into our family who have never even met the man.

Mizanskey’s family has created a crowdfunding page on the website GoFundMe which seeks help with his transition back into society after being incarcerated for decades.

Watch the Truth in Media Project’s Consider This video, embedded below, which exposes some important and lesser-known facts about non-violent inmates serving hard time under the War on Drugs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zTOFxdUsQw

Missouri To Set Free Grandfather Sentenced to Life Without Parole for Pot

Since September of last year, Truth in Media has reported on the the plight of Jeff Mizanskey, a 62-year-old grandfather who was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for three non-violent marijuana convictions under Missouri’s since-repealed, three-strikes style Prior and Persistent Drug Offender statute. After a rising chorus of supporters begged for his release, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon unexpectedly commuted Mizanskey’s sentence to life in prison with the possibility of parole last May, qualifying him for an August 6 hearing before Missouri’s Board of Probation and Parole.

[RELATED: MO Governor Jay Nixon Commutes Grandfather’s Life Sentence for Pot]

At the hearing, Mizanskey, who has already spent over 21 years in a maximum security prison, was granted parole and, according to ABC 17 News, he is set to be released within 10 to 25 days of the parole board’s decision.

A message posted on August 10 on the Free Jeff Mizanskey Facebook page read, “Great news everyone… Jeff is coming home this month! We want everyone to know how greatful[sic] we are for all the support received throughout this whole ordeal. There is a lot of people to thank but I don’t wanna forget anyone so I need to make a list but we are so thankful to everyone that had a part in helping us bring him home.” The post contains a link to a GoFundMe page dedicated to raising funds to help Mizanskey get back on his feet after decades of incarceration.

Jeff Mizanskey’s son Chris summed up his experience in lobbying for his father’s release for all these years in comments to KCRG-13, “It really does go to show you that people being together on one voice can change a lot of issues.” Chris Mizanskey said that supporters who had pressured officials on his father’s behalf deserve credit for his release.

Watch the Truth in Media Project’s Consider This video, embedded below, which exposes some lesser-known and important facts about non-violent inmates serving hard time under the War on Drugs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zTOFxdUsQw

Grandfather Still Serving Life for Pot Following Mo. Governor’s Commutation

Truth in Media reported last September on the plight of Jeff Mizanskey, a now 62-year-old grandfather who had been sentenced to life in prison without parole for three non-violent marijuana convictions under Missouri’s since-repealed Prior and Persistent Drug Offender statute. After state legislators led by Republican Representative Shamed Dogan pressed Missouri’s governor to step in on Mizanskey’s behalf and set him free, Governor Nixon commuted the grandfather and Air Force veteran’s sentence to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Mizanskey remains behind bars in a maximum security prison, his imprisonment draining taxpayer funds, as he continues to serve the twenty-first year of what is still an active life sentence. His first parole hearing is set for August 6. However, analysis by the criminal justice non-profit Marshall Project and cited by KSHB-TV found that Missouri has “one of the most secretive parole boards – one that’s not required to explain its decisions” and that “parole-eligible lifers are almost never paroled at their first hearing and often are never freed.”

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has the authority to free Mizanskey outright, but so far has refused to do so, citing what he referred to as the seriousness of Mizanskey’s marijuana convictions. In 2011, Governor Nixon’s own son was cited with marijuana possession before the charges were later dropped by prosecutors.

Why [Governor Nixon] wants me to be on parole after 21 years [in prison], I don’t know,” said Jeff Mizanskey to KSHB-TV. “Just because you’re going up for parole, don’t mean you make it… I’m 62. I came in when I was 41. Since then, I’ve had grandchildren I’ve not even got to see yet. You know, to be out there with my family, friends, it would mean the world.”

CBS St. Louis notes that Mike Mizanskey, Jeff Mizanskey’s brother, has been asking supporters to submit letters to the Jefferson City Correctional Center parole board asking for his release. “I suggest that the letters be short, no more than one or two pages ideally. They should begin with the writer stating how he or she knows Jeff or knows about his case. The writer should then state that he or she believes Jeff has suffered enough for his crimes and deserves to be released. What it actually says is probably less important than the fact that a person is willing to speak up on Jeff’s behalf,” said Mike Mizanskey. A group called POW 420 published the address to the Jefferson City Correctional Center on its website.

Analysis by KSHB-TV found that taxpayers have spent almost $500,000 keeping Mizanskey behind bars for the past 21 years, with each additional year costing around $22,000.

Watch the Truth in Media Project’s Consider This video, embedded below, which examines some facts about non-violent inmates serving hard time under the War on Drugs.

https://youtu.be/9zTOFxdUsQw

MO Governor Jay Nixon Commutes Grandfather’s Life Sentence for Pot

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.

https://youtu.be/zuX9y0hiqWE

MO Republican Introduces Bill to Free Nonviolent Grandfather Serving Life for Pot

In September of last year, BenSwann.com reported on the plight of 61-year-old Jeff Mizanskey, a small-time, nonviolent pot dealer who was sentenced to life in prison without parole for three marijuana offenses under Missouri’s since-repealed Prior and Persistent Drug Offender statute. Though he remains behind bars, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting that one freshman Republican state-level lawmaker is taking aggressive steps to free Mizanskey, who has already spent over two decades behind bars. Since Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has yet to take action and grant clemency for the incarcerated grandfather, Representative Shamed Dogan (R-Ballwin) has introduced HB 978, a bill that “requires the Board of Probation and Parole to authorize the release of any offender who is incarcerated on August 28, 2015 and who is serving a life sentence without parole for marijuana offenses.”

As it happens, only Jeff Mizanskey fits that description, and, considering the fact that the Prior and Persistent Drug Offender law that led to his incarceration officially expires on January 1, 2017, he will likely be the last to suffer such a fate in the state. In a February 18 press release cited by Riverfront Times, Rep. Dogan said, “It is unconscionable to me that this man, who is no danger to society, will spend the rest of his life in prison at taxpayer expense… Many of my legislative colleagues have come together to implore the governor to commute Mr. Mizanskey’s life sentence, but to date the governor has done nothing more than promise to review Jeff’s case before he leaves office.”

The bill, which Rep. Dogan feels is unlikely to pass, has been introduced in an effort to launch hearings that he hopes will put pressure on Governor Nixon to grant clemency for Mizanskey. Though Nixon ignored Mizanskey’s pleas for clemency for quite some time, he has recently changed his tune and said that he is going to closely review the case. Governor Nixon spoke with KMBC-TV earlier this month about the perpetually-imprisoned grandfather and said, “It’s a very serious amount of time… If the laws change after someone is sentenced, then you want to give those things a close look.”

Rep. Dogan described his views on criminal justice in his press release on HB 978, “I fully support long sentences for repeat violent offenders, because I believe the punishment should fit the crime… In Mr. Mizanskey’s case, I am outraged by the fact that someone who violated our marijuana laws is being treated as harshly as a murderer and incarcerated for life.” Missourinet notes that Rep. Dogan said, “I think when the criminals in the prisons realize the injustice of something, something’s wrong… The idea that these people who have committed robberies, who’ve committed rapes, who’ve committed all kinds of violent crimes, and are a threat to our society can get out after five or ten years, and he’s still sitting there after twenty.”

Should Gov. Nixon Set Free This Man Serving Life in Prison for Pot?

Aaron Malin recently wrote an article for Reason highlighting the unimaginable plight of Jeff Mizanskey, a grandfather in Missouri who is currently serving a life sentence without parole for marijuana-related charges. Missouri’s harsh three-strikes law is to blame for Mizanskey’s unusually disproportionate punishment, as he has never been accused of committing an act of violence yet remains in prison for life due to the technicality of having committed three marijuana offences. Mizanskey told Malin that, during the almost 21 years he has spent in the Jefferson City Correctional Center so far, he has personally seen over 200 murderers and rapists walk free after finishing their much-shorter prison terms.

Jeff Mizanskey was hardly a drug kingpin. He was originally busted on charges consistent with a small-time marijuana dealer who paid for his own habit by selling to friends and acquaintances. He was not selling hard drugs or pushing marijuana on children. In the above-embedded video, he can be seen asking Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to grant clemency and set him free.

Malin pointed out the fact that guards at Mizanskey’s maximum security prison do not treat him as a threat. Malin described an experience he had with a prison guard when he went to Jefferson City Correctional Center to interview Mizanskey, “On the way there, the guard made small talk and asked whom I was interviewing. When I told him about Jeff he didn’t mince words about the failures of our judicial system.” Malin continued, “During the interview, the guard stayed on the other side of the room from the table where the interview was taking place. There were no restraints on Jeff—he was free to walk into the visiting room freely and shake my hand. Near the end of the interview, the guard briefly left us alone in the visiting room. It was clear that despite being assigned to live with rapists and murderers, Jeff did not fit in with violent offenders.”

The imprisoned grandfather’s three strikes sunk him for life primarily because he could not afford a high-powered attorney. He caught his first offense when a family member, who had been caught with marijuana provided by Mizanskey, turned him in to police in exchange for a lighter sentence. He was busted a second time with a little under three ounces of pot. His third conviction happened when he gave a ride to a friend who was the subject of a drug sting. That friend, who was the focus of the sting operation, has since served his time and is now free.

Mizanskey, now 61 years old, became a grandfather while behind bars and has yet to have a proper opportunity to spend time with his grandchildren. His son, who was thirteen when Mizanskey’s prison term began, is circulating a petition calling for Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to grant clemency to his father. Meanwhile, a growing number of states and municipalities are reducing penalties for marijuana-related crimes and, in some cases, outright legalizing recreational use.

The aging Mizanskey has exhausted all of his appeals and may die behind bars. He has spent his time in prison completing every offender rehabilitation program available to him. He has already served over 20 years for small-scale pot dealings. Supporters of Jeff Mizanskey are calling for those who sympathize with his plight to contact Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and request clemency.