After serving twenty years, Mizanskey was freed from a sentence of life without parole
Jeff Mizanskey [Credit: KCTV5]
Jeff Mizanskey was able to walk out of the prison a free man on Tuesday, September 1, 2015. After two decades behind bars for non-violent pot crimes, Mizanskey was allowed to reunite with his family.
A result of the combined lobbying efforts of pro-pot advocate groups, family, friends and lawmakers, Mizanskey's sentence of life without the possibility of parole was considered by many to be extreme and unnecessary.
Convicted in 1996 of conspiring to sell six pounds of Cannabis to a dealer who was linked to Mexican cartels, Jeff Mizanskey fell under the auspices of a Missouri law that allowed such a strict sentence to be handed down to those committing persistent drug felonies. Mizanskey had already been convicted twice in the past, dating back to 1984 and 1991. The 1984 felony offense involved possession and sale of pot and the 1991 felony arrest was due to weed possession.
None of Mizanskey's arrests were for violent offenses and the law that had allowed the Missouri judge to sentence him to life without the possibility of parole on felony drug charges has since been amended. Jeff Mizanskey was the only Missouri inmate serving LWOP for non-violent marijuana offenses.
In 2012, Missouri-based attorney Tony Nenninger accepted Mizanskey's case, telling 48 Hours' Crimesider that he “could hardly believe it” when he saw the case details for the first time.
Echoing the outrage of those already fighting to have Mizanskey's sentence reduced, Nenninger recalls, “The judge had to be crazy and the prosecutor has to be crazy. We need to have laws to tie their hands to [prevent] their ability to punish this extreme.”
A petition for clemency was filed by Nenninger on the behalf of Jeff Mizansky to Missouri Democratic Governor Jay Nixon. Governor Nixon agreed to commute the sentence in May of this year, allowing Mizanskey to argue for his freedom in front of the parole board.