Many of you have heard the story of Jeff Mizanskey, the man serving life in prison in Missouri for non-violent marijuana offenses. Although almost 20 years of his life have been taken from him, we are glad to report there is hope on the horizon.
After 130 Missouri lawmakers and some 390,000 people online demanded that Governor Jay Nixon do something, he did. Mizanskey is now eligible for parole after Governor Nixon commuted his sentence.
“I am just glad the governor did the right things,” said State Rep. Shamed Dogan, the man who drafted a letter that was signed by over 100 fellow lawmakers asking the governor for clemency. “Drug addicts, drug users need rehabilitation before they need incarceration.”
Mizanskey was sentenced in 1996 under the state’s “three strikes” law for various drug offenses, including being present during a deal that involved more than 100 pounds of cannabis. But Mizanskey was never accused of anything violent, which made his sentence seem to many to be highly excessive.
The petition that got 390,000 signatures was started by Mizanskey’s son, who was only 14 years old when his father went to prison, seemingly never to return.
“It breaks my heart every time we go up there to see him. We have to leave and he has to stay,” Chris Mizanskey said. His father has a parole board hearing this summer; theoretically he could be allowed to come home then.
The story of Jeff Mizanskey clearly illustrates all that is wrong with marijuana prohibition laws. They target those who are not a danger to society and put them in jail. This fills up space better used for those who are a danger while simultaneously ruining the lives of those better left outside of jail, where they can attempt to live their life the best way they can.
As long as someone is not infringing on the rights of someone else, they are not committing a crime. This is the way the law should be; maybe one day it will be.