Some of you may know the story of Jeff Mizanskey by now, the man who was serving life in prison in Missouri for non-violent cannabis offenses. Earlier this year he had his sentence commuted, and soon he will be a free man.
In May the Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon commuted Mizanskey’s sentence, which made him eligible for parole. Last week his attorney received word that Jeff would be going home soon.
"We were notified today that he will be granted parole and be released within '10 to 25 days,’” said lawyer Dan Viets.
Mizanskey was sentenced under Missouri’s “three strikes” law, so even though all three of his offenses were for marijuana, he was faced with spending the rest of his life behind bars.
But Jeff’s story went viral in late 2013, triggering a petition seeking his release to be created and ultimately get almost 400,000 signatures. This caused action in the state legislature, which caused the issue to enter the Governor’s radar. The rest, as they say, is history as the Internet shows its power to effect change in the real world.
Of course, Jeff can’t get back years of his life, and I’m sure he wishes he had made better decisions as a younger man. But it shouldn’t cost him his life, and now it won’t.
There are people languishing in prison all over the country whose only crimes were non-violent marijuana offenses — yet another reason legalization is needed sooner rather than later. People’s lives have been destroyed by the drug war; how long will we let this go on? How many more will have to be arrested before we put a final end to this monstrous war?
The time is now.