If you follow this blog enough, I'm sure you have noticed the sidebar banner for Jeff Mizanskey. Jeff Mizanskey has been serving a life sentence without the eligibility for parole for marijuana only offenses in Missouri. He has already served over two decades. Activists have been calling for his release for quite some time, especially activists involved with Show-Me Cannabis. I am happy to say that Missouri's Governor announced today that he will grant Jeff Mizanskey the chance to be paroled. I am hopeful that the parole board overseeing the inevitable request from Jeff Mizanskey will make the easy decision and approve the request. After all, Jeff Mizanskey has served over two decades for a substance that is safer than alcohol. Below is the press release issued today by Missouri's Governor:
Gov. Jay Nixon today announced that he has granted pardons to three men and two women convicted of non-violent offenses. Each of the individuals has completed his or her sentence and has become a law-abiding citizen. In addition, the Governor has commuted the sentence of Jeffrey Mizanskey to make him eligible for parole consideration. In 1996, Mizanskey was sentenced as a persistent drug offender to life without the possibility of parole.
"The executive power to grant clemency is one I take with a great deal of consideration and seriousness," Gov. Nixon said. "In each of the cases where I have granted a pardon, the individual has demonstrated the ability and willingness to turn his or her life around and become a contributing member of society."
In addition to the pardons, Gov. Nixon today also commuted the sentence of Jeffrey Mizanskey, who was convicted on a charge stemming from Pettis County in 1996 for possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver/distribute. Because of Mizanskey's prior drug-related convictions, he was sentenced as a persistent offender under the laws in effect at the time to a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. The Governor's commutation changes that sentence to include the possibility of parole, effective immediately.
"In the case of the commutation, my action provides Jeff Mizanskey with the opportunity to demonstrate that he deserves parole," Gov. Nixon said.
Show-Me Cannabis was instrumental in bringing awareness to Jeff Mizanskey's situation, and will continue to help fight until he is free. You should donate to them if you can. Below is their statement on today's developments:
Late this afternoon, Governor Nixon announced he'd commuted Jeff Mizanskey's sentence from life without parole to a life sentence with parole eligibility, almost guaranteeing Jeff's freedom in the immediate future. While Jeff's release must now be approved by the state parole board, Jeff has been a model prisoner with no violence or disciplinary issues, and is extraordinarily likely that he will meet the conditions for parole eligibility. It is our hope that he is re-united with his family sometime this summer.
Thanks to everyone who took the time to call or write the Governor about this issue. There are a ton of people who share credit for today's news, including everyone who contacted the Governor's office to advocate for Jeff's release. Your hard work, combined with pressure from a statewide media campaign and the actions of courageous legislators, such as Shamed Dogan, made this possible.
From here, the parole board will schedule a hearing to decide on Jeff's release. This is likely to happen sometime this summer. Our hope and expectation is that they will immediately grant parole. While today is absolutely a day to celebrate, let us always remember that we must continue to fight for others serving unjust sentences for cannabis. Jeff will soon be free, but we will continue to fight for others like David and Natalie DePriest who recently received 15 year prison sentences for growing 20 cannabis plants in their closet. We hope you will continue to support our efforts by making a contribution of $10, $25, or $50 to help end the war on cannabis and free its victims.