Life Sentence for Pot Posession? Jeff Mizanskey Seeks Clemency

Monday, 09 Dec 2013 08:18 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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As many states changed their laws to allow both medical and recreational marijuana use, Missouri inmate Jeff Mizanskey is hoping a clemency request to Gov. Jay Nixon will lessen his life sentence for marijuana possession.

Jeff Mizanskey was arrested in 1993 for possession of marijuana when he was caught in a law enforcement sting operation in Missouri, according to the Riverfront Times.

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He was sentenced in 1995 under the state's Prior and Persistent Drug Offender statute, which allows a judge to impose prison terms ranging from 10 years to life in prison without parole for those convicted of three drug-related felonies. The 1993 arrest was Mizanskey's third drug offense, reported the Riverfront Times.

The Huffington Post reported that Attorney Tony Nenninger and Chris Mizanskey, the inmate's son, have written Gov. Jay Nixon for executive clemency to alleviate the sentence.

Nenninger and Chris Mizanskey said that Mizanskey had never been to prison until the third marijuana conviction and was a nonviolent offender. They also question his 1993 arrest, saying he was there with another man who purchased drugs and he never participated in the transaction.

"I've written about the criminal justice system for a long time, and I understand inequities abound," wrote St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bill McClellan about the case last month. "There are all sorts of variables. The quality of the defense lawyer, the jurisdiction in which one gets arrested, the sentencing judge, and so on. No two cases are identical. But still, life without parole for a pot charge? Are you kidding me?"

Pettis County, Mo. prosecutor Jeff Mittelhauser, told the Riverfront Times, that a plea deal was on the table for 25 years, and Mizanskey opted for trial, so he has little sympathy for the inmate.

"That was the gorilla in the room," Mittelhauser said. "He rolled the dice — and that's his prerogative, to go to trial — but he did, and this is what happened."

Clemency from Nixon is Mizanskey's only shot to get out of prison. He has also exhausted all of his appeals after his case was rejected by Missouri Court of Appeals in 1996 and 2011.

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