Missouri Man Seeks Clemency As He Serves A Life Sentence For Nonviolent, Pot-Related Charges

| by Jared Keever

A Missouri man, serving a life sentence for nonviolent, marijuana-related charges is asking his fellow citizens to write letters to the state’s governor asking for clemency. 

Jeff Mizanskey, 61, contacted the Riverfront Times asking the the St. Louis paper to publish his request to its readers. 

In the statement, Mizanskey claims his supporters have already made 1,000 phone calls to the governor’s office. He thanks those that have taken the time to sign online petitions demanding his release. But, he argues, the governor pays more attentions to letters. 

“If you can find a few minutes to send a short letter to the governor, I know it would help,” the statement reads. “I don't have anyone else to ask but all of you. Thank you all again.”

Mizanskey was last arrested in December 1993 and subsequently found guilty for possession of five pounds of marijuana. He was sentenced to life in prison under Missouri’s “prior and persistent drug offender” law, according to the Huffington Post

Although he had been convicted of felonies before, he had not previously served time or been convicted of a violent crime. Mizanskey has lost every appeal of his last conviction. He has been in prison for 21 years.

His story went viral last year as many began to question the wisdom of keeping a nonviolent offender behind bars for the rest of his life, particularly while marijuana was being legalized in other states.

His supporters continue to pressure Gov. Jay Nixon to grant him clemency but so far the governor has refused to take a firm stance on Mizanskey’s case.

In April, a reporter asked Nixon to comment on a recent announcement from President Barack Obama that the White House would seek clemency for nonviolent drug offenders serving time in federal prisons. 

"Certainly the president is entitled to his opinion, but I'll keep my executive authority vis-à-vis the folks in our district — that’s something we do at the state level," he responded, according to a separate story from the Riverfront Times. "But we're constantly looking at areas where we can balance, shall we say, the scales of justice, but my sense is that we're busily engaged in the last three weeks of the legislative session on a number of things, but we'll go through our regular process and look through all petitions for clemency, as well as pardons.”

The governor’s office currently has a backlog of thousands of clemency petitions awaiting a response.

Sources: Riverfront Times (July Blog), Huffington Post, Riverfront Times (April Blog)