Jeff Mizanskey was sentenced to life in prison without parole on a marijuana-related charge. But after two decades behind bars, this victim of the so-called “War on Drugs” walked free.
Mizanskey’s release followed years of widespread support, petitioning and lobbying from family, lawmakers as well as countless advocates for the legalization of marijuana. All agreed on one key issue, that the sentence of life in prison for a controlled substance made no sense, and constituted “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Mizanskey has been locked up for over two decades, serving out a sentence of life without parole at Jefferson City Correctional Center. The law that locked him away after “three strikes” has since been repealed, but the governor would not show the aging man mercy in spite of this fact.
Mizanskey was originally arrested back in 1993 for possessing five pounds of marijuana.
Despite the fact there are thousands of prisoners across the country serving life sentences for similar crimes, Mizanskey’s case has become one of the most highly recognized in the United States.
Earlier this year, a legion of lawmakers from the Missouri General Assembly signed a letter begging Governor Nixon for his release, while a petition authored by Mizanskey’s son, Chris, has also managed to collect nearly 400,000 signatures in favor of his freedom.
This carried with it a sentence of 10 years because of “intent to distribute” the medicinal plant. But because of the draconian law – that would later be struck down – this third conviction sent him behind bars for life. You see, back in 1984 and 1991 he was also arrested, for possession of relatively tiny amounts of the leaf.
In a surprising decision earlier this year, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said that he would not pardon the well-known case of Jeff Mizanskey, who has been serving a life sentence for marijuana charges. Now, he might have another chance for freedom.
Nixon did pardon nine other nonviolent offenders last month, but letting the 61-year-old man who was jailed over charges related to a natural plant seemed too much to ask the governor.
High Times reported Mizanskey was scheduled back in August “for his first parole hearing since receiving a life sentence with no possibility for an early release nearly two decades ago.”
On Thursday, the 62-year-old will take full advantage of a recent commutation granted by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, which stated that Mizanskey now has the “opportunity to demonstrate that he deserves parole.” After waiting three months for a hearing, the veteran inmate hopes the parole board will acknowledge that his sentence has never fit the crime and ultimately hand over the keys to his freedom.
Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon allowed Mizanskey to argue for his freedom. While he was denied parole, he was allowed to argue for his freedom, eventually getting his sentence commuted and walking free on Tuesday. Watch the local report below…
(Article by M. David and Jackson Marciana)