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Jeff Mizanskey: Marijuana Lifer Gets Parole

It has been three months since Missouri Governor Jay Nixon commuted the sentence of marijuana lifer Jeff Mizanskey, and now, he is being released.

On Monday, after spending nearly two decades rotting away in the Jefferson City Correctional Center, Mizanskey learned that the state’s Board of Probation and Parole have decided to give him his freedom.

According to Mizanskey’s attorney, Dan Viets, the 62-year-old, who earlier this year penned a haunting letter suggesting he was going to die in prison, will likely be launched back into civil society within the next ten to 25 days. However, Viets believes his release will likely come sooner, depending on the “whim” of the Missouri Department of Corrections.

Earlier last week, Mizanskey met with the parole board for the first time since Governor Nixon granted his commutation, giving him the “opportunity to demonstrate that he deserves parole.” Prior to this, Mizanskey had been ineligible for consideration because, even though his marijuana convictions were for non-violent offenses, he fell sharply under the guillotine of Missouri’s three-strike rule. Unfortunately, this misalignment in the law all but guaranteed that he would never exit the prison alive.

However, Mizanskey’s case was the subject of a great deal of media attention after several campaigns were launched gunning for his release. In addition to a petition on Change.org that managed to collect around 400,000 signatures, members of the Missouri General Assembly penned a letter to Governor Nixon asking him to have mercy on Mizanskey.

Although Mizanskey himself admitted to being somewhat skeptical of his chances for an early release, saying, “just because you’re going up for parole, don’t mean you’ll make it,” the Free Jeff Mizanskey Facebook page confirmed the news Monday evening.

“Great news everyone… Jeff is coming home this month!” read the post. “We want everyone to know how greatful [sic] we are for all the support received throughout this whole ordeal.”

Fortunately, Mizanskey will get to spend the holidays at home this year for the first time in way too long, a luxury that thousands of other prisoners locked away under similar circumstances will not get to enjoy. Some of the latest statistics from the American Civil Liberties Union indicates that 88 percent of the drug-related arrests in the United States are for marijuana possession. These are embarrassing numbers considering that over half the nation has legalized the herb for medicinal and/or recreational purposes. Still, the federal government continues to wage a war against people and plant, reportedly spending in upwards of $20 million per year to maintain a prohibitionary standard.

Nevertheless, marijuana advocates have no choice but to continue chipping away at the system one injustice at a time. Today, we are pleased to report a victory.
On behalf of everyone at High Times, welcome home Jeff!

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