Target: Jay Nixon, Governor of Missouri
Goal: Urge the governor to grant clemency to Jeff Mizanskey, sentenced to life for non-violent crimes involving marijuana
Washington and Colorado residents can now legally purchase marijuana for recreational use. Nearly two dozen states have approved its use as medicine, and the registered growers working with local dispensaries are struggling to keep up with demand. Yet for one man serving life in prison in for non-violent, marijuana related charges there is little to celebrate. Jeff Mizanskey has already served 21 years in Missouri prisons for allegedly selling weed to police informants, and despite America’s steady progress towards decriminalization he fears he may die there.
Mizanskey was first arrested with marijuana on his person back in 1984, attempting a sale to an undercover officer. In 1991 he was caught with weed in his possession, though intended for personal use. Because of an unjust and unforgiving “three strikes” law in his state Mizanskey received the unthinkable sentence of life in prison without parole when in 1993 he was caught up in a sting operation. He continues to deny he was a part of the alleged transaction; video evidence shows his friend making the purchase, not him, according to online news outlet Raw Story.
In the wake of rapid reforms Mizanskey and his attorney hoped to appeal to reason and thus bring him the freedom he deserves. He has been an upstanding prisoner, helping troubled young inmates as part of a job training program and cautioning them against the use of violence to deal with their problems. The Riverfront Times reports that roughly 1,000 people have called the Missouri governor’s office on his behalf, and another hundred have written letters. Yet Mizanskey continues to waste away behind bars. He recently learned he is a great-grandfather, and hopes to be there to support his youngest family members to help make up for lost time.
Urge Governor Nixon to release Jeff Mizanskey, the only man serving life without parole in Missouri prisons for for nonviolent, marijuana-only charges.
Dear Governor Nixon,
State prison inmate Jeff Mizanskey has the unpleasant distinction of being the only person currently serving life without parole for marijuana-only crimes. He has already spent the last 21 years of his life behind bars despite never having been charged with a violent crime, or a crime against minors. His endless incarceration–beyond wasting taxpayer dollars–amounts to a human rights violation that warrants your full attention.
Hundreds of people have already written to you or phoned to ask you to grant Mizanskey clemency. He has shown himself to be a model inmate, helping young prisoners find the straight and narrow path. Surely he can contribute even more to society as a free man. Please, release him without any further delay.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Rotational via Wikimedia Commons