Jeff Mizanskey, the widely publicized Missouri prisoner who was serving a life sentence for a non-violent marijuana offense, is being released from prison after having his sentence commuted by Governor Jay Nixon.
Mizanskey’s plight had received much media attention this year after Nixon denied his pardon back in January, much of it do to the efforts of cannabis law reform advocates like POW 420, Show-Me Cannabis and High Times. 400,000 signatures were collected for a petition by Change.com.
Mizansky had been serving a life sentence without parole for an arrest in the early 90’s when he was found in possession of five pounds of marijuana. The harsh sentencing came down as a result of Missouri’s three-strike policies, though none of Mizanskey’s offenses were violent in nature.
The prisoner did not expect such a favorable turn of events. In a compelling letter the 61 year-old wrote during his appeal process last whenever, Mizanskey wrote, “I will die here in prison.”
The news of the newly won commuted sentence came from the Free Jeff Mizanskey Facebook page earlier this month. “Great news everyone… Jeff is coming home this month!” it said. “We want everyone to know how greatful [sic] we are for all the support received throughout this whole ordeal.”
It’s not only a big win for Mizanskey but for other prisoners of the war on drugs. According to recent data from the American Civil Liberty Union also reported in High Times, marijuana offenses make up 88 percent of drug arrests in this country, meaning there are many who currently suffer the same fate Mizanskey was just spared.
Mizansky hopes his case will spur action and awareness for others in a similar situation. “I just hope my case has opened up some eyes!” he wrote in his letter. “I know a lot of you use cannabis, or someone in your family does, or a friend does, and no one deserves to be locked up for cannabis… I am not the only person in prison, and others are going through the same thing I am going through.”
He is expected to be released from prison later this month or in early September.
Photo via High Times