A Missouri grandfather who’s serving life in prison for nonviolent marijuana offenses is still waiting for a chance at freedom months after Governor Nixon commuted the life without parole sentence.
In July, we reported on President Obama's commutation of nonviolent drug offenders. What most people don't know is that even after a sentence is commuted, the individual isn't immediately set free. It can take months, sadly even years, for a person who shouldn't even be in prison to be freed.
Unfortunately, this is the case for Jeff Mizanskey, who’s serving life in prison for nonviolent marijuana offenses.
According to KSHB News, taxpayers in Missouri have paid nearly $500,000 to keep Mizanskey locked up the past 21 years. (It costs about $22,000 annually to house and feed each prisoner.)
Missouri has no laws legalizing marijuana and therefore taxpayers spend more than $120 million every year just to imprison drug offenders.
If only Missouri spent that kind of money each year to turn local police departments into nationally accredited law enforcement agencies, maybe just maybe Missouri police would serve and protect all citizens equally and abide by Constitutional law so that all are treated with dignity and respect (...but I digress...)
Map courtesy of Governing.com - Missouri is one of the "Gray States" where marijuana isn't legal under any circumstances
For now, Missouri taxpayers will keep paying to imprison Mizanskey as he waits for a chance at parole.
It's now been months after Missouri’s governor Jay Nixon commuted Mizanskey's life without parole sentence, but Mizanskey must wait to have a hearing with the parole board -- this will take place on August 6, as reported by KSHB News.
- Mizanskey, a veteran of the Air Force, says he smoked pot for pain relief from his construction job in his hometown of Sedalia.
- After his third marijuana conviction, for possession with intent to distribute, a judge sentenced him to life without parole under Missouri's three strikes drug law.
- State legislators have voted to end the law on Jan. 1, 2017, but not retroactively, meaning this won't help Mizanskey or anyone else currently locked up for nonviolent offenses.
- Mizanskey started asking Gov. Nixon for clemency ever since he took office in 2009.
- Nixon has granted pardons to other non-violent drug offenders and he announced in May that he commuted Mizanskey’s sentence to life with the possibility of parole, although “the governor may release the individual without further obligation,” according to Missouri’s Department of Corrections.
- It took a petition signed by more than 100 Missouri lawmakers and nearly 400,000 people for the governor to commute Mizanskey's sentence to life with the possibility of parole.
- One state legislator even introduced a bill for Mizanskey’s release after hearing his story.
- Unfortunately, parol-eligible lifers like Mr. Mizanskey are almost never paroled at their first hearing and often are never freed.
- This is because Missouri has one of the most secretive parole boards - one that's not required to explain its decisions.
So will Mizanskey actually be freed from his maximum security prison cell in Jefferson City? That's up to the super-top-secret parole board...unless you live in Missouri and feel like calling your representative to make a difference. You can also get involved through the Free Jeff Mizanskey Facebook page.
And here's another way you can help: Mark Pedersen is trying to introduce the Missouri Cannabis Restoration & Protection Act, which will provide the full legalization of cannabis and cannabis oil while also making cannabis legal to use at ANY age. Visit Mark's website at www.CPNINSTITUTE.org and show him your support, or watch his interview here:
“I’m 62. I came [into prison] when I was 41," said Jeff Mizanskey. "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.”
This is the tragic reality of America's War on Drugs.
Mizanskey should never have been sent to prison for cannabis, a plant with numerous known medical benefits which is safe for patients, and safe for responsible adult consumption. He's been locked up for 21 years...for what?
Missouri residents: do you realize you are at war with your veterans, your grandfathers, your neighbors over a plant? Shouldn't you give this man his life back? Don't you have better things to do with your tax dollars? Sound off below.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC its affiliates, or its employees.
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