Jeff Mizanskey (Change.org)

Missouri man Jeff Mizanskey, serving life sentence for pot, ‘is coming home’

After his third marijuana arrest in 1993, Jeff Mizanskey was sentenced to die in prison. Now he's coming home, his son says

Jeff Mizanskey, a 62-year-old Missouri man sentenced to life in prison without parole for non-violent marijuana offenses, will be released from the state’s maximum-security prison in Jefferson City in less than a month, according to his son.

“Jeff is coming home this month!” reads a post on the Free Jeff Mizanskey page on Facebook. Mizanskey should be released from prison in 10-25 days, his son Chris Mizanskey told Kansas City Fox station WDAF. Jeff Mizanskey’s attorney confirmed the news to The Huffington Post’s Matt Ferner.

Jeff Mizanskey (Jefferson City Correctional Center, Associated Press)
Jeff Mizanskey (Jefferson City Correctional Center, Associated Press)

“We were notified today that he will be granted parole and be released within ‘10 to 25 days,’” lawyer Dan Viets told HuffPo, referencing the Missouri Department of Corrections’ decision.

Jeff Mizanskey’s story is a familiar one in America’s war on drugs. As told by the Change.org petition that asked Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon for clemency, a document that has nearly 400,000 signatures:

My father Jeff Mizanskey has been in prison for 20 years and has no possibility of parole. For non-violent, marijuana-only offenses, my father has been sentenced to die in prison because of a “three strikes” mandatory sentencing policy in the State of Missouri.

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.

Missouri lawmakers repealed the state’s three-strikes law, known as the Prior and Persistent Drug Offender Law, in 2014 — a move that opened a door for Mizanskey’s case.

Nixon commuted Mizanskey’s life sentence in May after approximately 130 Missouri lawmakers wrote the governor in favor of clemency. On the same day, Nixon granted pardons to three men and two women convicted of non-violent offenses.

Of Mizanskey’s commutation, Gov. Nixon said in May: “My action provides Jeff Mizanskey with the opportunity to demonstrate that he deserves parole.”