Man with life sentence for pot has sentence commuted

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Jeff Mizanskey.

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JEFFERSON CITY, MO (KTVI) – 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.

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who points out that Mizanskey got his sentence under a “prior and persistent offender statute” legislators recently repealed.

“I am just glad the governor did the right things,” Rep. Shamed Dogan said. “Drug addicts, drug users need rehabilitation before they need incarceration.”

390,000 citizens signed a Change.Org petition, started by Jeff’s son, Chris Mizanskey.

“Times are changing and things need to change,” Chris said at the time.

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,” he 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. He will have a hearing in front of the parole board sometime this summer.

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