Missouri Governor Commutes Life Sentence of Non-violent Drug Offender

By Victoria Kim 05/27/15

Sixty-two-year-old Jeffrey Mizanskey is now eligible for parole after spending 21 years in prison.

Governor Jay Nixon
Governor Jay Nixon Photo via

A Missouri man serving life in prison for marijuana without the possibility of parole was given a second chance when Gov. Jay Nixon commuted his sentence on Saturday.

This makes 62-year-old Jeffrey Mizanskey eligible for parole immediately, though it does not guarantee his freedom. Mizanskey will have to go before a parole board and “demonstrate that he deserves parole,” Nixon said in a press release.

Mizanskey, who has served 21 years in prison thus far, received life without parole in 1996 under Missouri’s Prior and Persistent Drug Offender statute, a “three strikes” mandatory sentencing policy that was repealed last year, the Riverfront Times reports. Mizanskey reached his third strike when he was arrested for being involved in the sale of several pounds of marijuana, an incident that was just as minor and as non-violent as his two prior marijuana convictions.

“The executive power to grant clemency is one I take with a great deal of consideration and seriousness,” said Nixon, who pardoned five other non-violent offenders in addition to commuting Mizanskey’s sentence. “In each of the cases where I have granted a pardon, the individual has demonstrated the ability and willingness to turn his or her life around and become a contributing member of society.”

“It’s wonderful. Thank Jay Nixon for doing that, for finally looking at his case and doing the right thing,” Mizanskey’s brother, Michael, told the Times.

“He’s not free yet,” his son, Chris, wrote in an update on his father’s change.org petition seeking clemency. “But we’re closer than ever to bringing him home and reuniting my family.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr