Everybody needs to know Jeff Mizanskey’s story.
In 1993, Jeff Mizanskey, then 41 years old, was sent to prison in Missouri for a nonviolent crime related to the possession and intent to sell marijuana. Due to this being his third charge — the first being in 1984, and the second in 1991 — Mizanskey was sent straight to prison under a statute for prior and persistent drug offenders. Mizanskey didn’t realize (until he wanted to apply for his release) that under the statute he was charged with, he was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Today, 23 years later, Mizanskey (now 64 years old) is still in prison. He’s watched murderers, rapists, and hard drug traffickers come in and leave on parole, sometimes even witnessing them come back as repeat offenders. In his twenty plus years in prison, Mizanskey has held good behavior, having only two violations, “one for a messy floor and one for putting a piece of mail in the wrong slot in the mailroom.” He’s also helped many prisoners by teaching them how to work.
The only reason why he’s still in prison today is because of outdated laws. But the times have changed.
As we have seen in the past few years, the perception of marijuana is evolving. In 1991, a mere 17% of Americans supported cannabis legalization, leaving an overwhelming majority of the population opposed. Today, public support is at an all-time high—54% of the population believes it should be legalized. Furthermore, 24 states and the District of Columbia have decriminalized cannabis in some form.
In addition to these developments, it’s important to note that the statues in which Mizanskey was charged under no longer even exist! The legislative body recently repealed the statute with help from the 390,000 Americans who signed a Change.org petition, created by Mizanskey’s son.
In late May, Governor Jay Nixon commuted the sentence to life with parole and Jeff Mizanskey is awaiting a visit with the parole board. Let’s get this man home to his family!
Featured image Michael Coghlan