Jeff Mizanskey, Sentenced To Life Without Parole Over Marijuana, To Be Released From Prison

Jeff Mizanskey was to live out the rest of his days in prison, with no chance of parole, over nonviolent marijuana offenses, but his path was changed thanks to relentless advocates for the decriminalization of marijuana. Jeff Mizanskey’s attorney, Dan Viets, announced Thursday that the once prison-lifer will be released on September 1. With just weeks remaining behind bars, Mizanskey faces life in the free world after having spent the last 21 years of his life in prison.

Jeff’s son petitioned the governor on a Change.org petition in which he explained his father’s offenses.

“Dad’s first offense was in 1984 when he sold an ounce to an undercover informant, and then was found to possess a half pound of marijuana when police raided his house the next day. His next offense occurred in 1991, when he was caught in possession of a couple of ounces. But for my father’s final strike in 1993, he became an easy fall guy in a conspiracy to distribute marijuana. My dad was driving a friend to a deal that turned out to be a sting operation. All of the other convicted men involved were set free years ago, but my dad was given a virtual death sentence.”

That petition garnered almost 400,000 signatures. In May, Missouri’s Governor Jay Nixon granted Mizanskey a commutation. At that time Nixon was quoted by Riverfront Times as telling the press, “In the case of the commutation, my action provides Jeff Mizanskey with the opportunity to demonstrate that he deserves parole.”

At that time, Jeff’s brother, Michael Mizanskey, said, “It’s wonderful. Thank Jay Nixon for doing that, for finally looking at his case and doing the right thing.” Michael added, “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.”

A couple of months later, on August 6, the Missouri Board of Probation and Parole at the Jefferson City Corrections Center held his first hearing about Mizanskey’s fate. Less than a week after the hearing, Mizanskey and his lawyer were informed that he would, in fact, be released to live out the remainder of his life a free man.

Supporters celebrated on the Free Jeff Mizanskey Facebook page Thursday, now that a date has been confirmed for the man’s release.

[Photo credit: Free Jeff Mizanskey/Facebook]