Jeff Mizanskey, Missouri Man Sentenced to Die in Prison With a Life Sentence, Walks Free Tomorrow

   

Update: Jeff Mizanskey is now a free man!

The tragic plight of Jeff Mizanskey, a Missouri man sentenced to die in prison with a life sentence, amazingly gets out of prison tomorrow thanks to the tireless efforts of his caring family and a group of advocates that started a massive movement for one man’s freedom. The fact that a nonviolent man could be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, galvanized Drug War reform activists across the globe.

Thousands of people joined the Free Jeff Mizanskey Facebook page and signed online petitions. Thanks to the great activists at Show-Me Cannabis (full disclosure, I am proud to have once been a board member), particularly SMC Chairman Dan Viets, who went on to become Mizanskey’s attorney, the Republican-dominated Missouri Legislature passed a bill to ensure that no one would ever be subjected to the same draconian sentence of life. Unfortunately for Jeff, the bill wasn’t retroactive, so he still needed assistance from Democratic Governor Jay Nixon, who did indeed commute his sentence.

Dan Viets, my first marijuana activist mentor, argued brilliantly (I presume) before the Missouri Parole Board, because the state announced that Jeff would be getting out of prison just several days later. It is amazing that the day of freedom for Jeff Mizanskey has finally come. Between 8am and 10am Central Time tomorrow morning, Jeff Mizanskey will be exiting prison for the first time in more than 20 years and into the loving arms of his family and advocates that dedicated their lives to the freedom of one man. I am so happy for Jeff, the entire Mizanskey family and everyone that invested themselves in this important fight for justice. A sincere and heartfelt thanks to everyone who took the time to fight for his freedom. It is amazing that #FreeJeff became #WeFreedJeffMizanskey thanks to the dedication of some tremendous freedom fighters that weren’t going to let such an injustice stand any longer.

Press Release sent out today by Show-Me Cannabis:

For Immediate Release — Aug. 31, 2015

Contact: Dan Viets, Mizanskey’s lawyer: 573-819-2669.

Travis Maurer, Show-Me-Cannabis co-founder: 503-333-8184.

Chris Mizanskey, Mizanskey’s son: 660-221-3040.

Jeff Mizanskey, symbol of drug war, released from prison tomorrow

Life without parole for nonviolent marijuana offense: Governor commuted sentence after international campaign to free him.

THE STORY: Freeing Jeff Mizanskey took 21 years, signatures from 391,254 petition signers, a documentary, letters from 126 Missouri lawmakers, a plea for clemency from the prosecutor, a bill from Republican state representative Shamed Dogan, billboards, and a sustained effort by nonprofit criminal justice reform organizations like Show-Me Cannabis. Because of Missouri’s “prior and persistent drug offender”  law, Mizanskey had been sentenced to life in prison, without the possibility of parole, for nonviolent marijuana charges. He gets out Tuesday morning.

WHAT’S HAPPENING: Mizanskey will be freed from the Jefferson City Correctional Center.

WHEN / WHERE: Tuesday, Sept. 1, between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., at the Jefferson City Correctional Center, 8200 No More Victims Rd, Jefferson City, Missouri, 65101.

VISUALS:

  • Tearful family members, including Mizanskey’s son and grandchildren, will meet Mizanskey outside of prison for the first time in 21 years.

  • Mizanskey plans to make a short statement to the media.

  • Travis Maurer will talk about how a paramilitary drug bust at his home spurred him to co-found Show Me Cannabis and help free Mizanskey

PHOTOS:

(Credit: Show-Me Cannabis)

  • Jeff Mizanskey, with his children, before going to prison (credit: Jeff Mizanskey family, 2 photos)

  • Jeff Mizanskey after 20 years in prison (credit: Jeff Mizanskey family, 2 photos)

  • Billboard asking for his release (credit: Show-Me Cannabis)

BACKGROUND MATERIALS:

TK:

  • A full press release before and after his release.

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Anthony Johnson

Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon's cannabis legalization effort. He served as director of both the New Approach Oregon and Vote Yes on 91 PACs, the political action committees responsible for the state's legalization campaign. As director of New Approach Oregon, Anthony continues to work towards effectively implementing the cannabis legalization system while protecting small business owners and the rights of patients. He sits on the Oregon Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee and fights for sensible rules at the legislature as well as city councils and county commissions across the state. Anthony helps cannabis business comply with Oregon's laws and advises advocates across the country. He also serves as content director of both the International Cannabis Business Conference and the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference, helping share the vision of moving the cannabis industry forward in a way that maintains the focus on keeping people out of prison and protecting patients. He was a member of the Oregon Health Authority Rules Advisory Committee, assisting the drafting of the administrative rules governing Oregon’s state-licensed medical marijuana facilities. He first co-authored and helped pass successful marijuana law reform measures while a law student at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. He passed the Oregon Bar in 2005 and practiced criminal defense for two years before transitioning to working full-time in the political advocacy realm. His blogs on Marijuana Politics are personal in nature and don't speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization.