Governor Jay Nixon commuted the sentence for Missouri’s only man serving life in prison for non-violent marijuana-related offenses.
Jeff Mizanskey, now 62, was arrested during an undercover drug bust in Sedalia in 1993. He was sentenced in 1996 under the state’s Prior and Persistent Drug Offender Law, which is a three-strike system.
FOX 2 Now reports that at the time of Mizanskey’s arrest, police were after a drug dealer who hired two men to smuggled more than 100 pounds of marijuana across state lines. When police followed the smugglers to a hotel where the dealer was, they found Mizanskey, who already had two strikes on his record. The third gave him life without parole.
Approximately 130 Missouri lawmakers signed a letter to Gov. Nixon asking for clemency. It was drafted by Representative Shamed Dogan, who points out that Mizanskey got his sentence under a “prior and persistent offender statute” legislators recently repealed. Dogan added, “We as a body realized that this type of sentence is disproportionate for these types of offenses.”
390,000 citizens signed a Change.Org petition, started by Jeff’s son. Chris Mizanskey said, “Times are changing and things need to change.”
Chris was 14-years-old when his dad went away to prison.
“It breaks my heart every time we go up there to see him. We have to leave and he has to stay,” Chris said. “I can only hope he’ll be able to walk out of there one day, we’ll be able to enjoy our lives together what’s left of his and what’s left of mine.”
Nixon’s commutation means Mizanskey is eligible for parole, effective immediately.