Press Release: Help Jeff Mizanskey Survive
The following is a press release:
For Immediate Release — Sept. 4, 2015
- Dan Viets, Mizanskey’s lawyer: 573-819-2669
- John Payne, Show-Me Cannabis: 573-718-3073
- Chris Mizanskey, Mizanskey’s son: 660-221-3040
Help Jeff Mizanskey Survive
Freedom after twenty-one years: Missouri does little to help people readjust after they have gotten out; family creates GoFundMe page.
Jeff Mizanskey should not have been put in prison in the first place, but now that he’s finally free, he needs to find a way to survive. Missouri does not provide much support to people who get out of prison, and Jeff doesn’t have much savings. He made $0.71 cents an hour for his prison job at the finishing shop.
“I’ve got a lot of family members and people here that are going to help me learn, but it’s going to take some time,” he said. “I’ve never been on the Internet. As far as a telephone, I used to walk into a telephone booth and drop a dime in there. Now there are these things called smartphones.”
Mizanskey spent 21 years behind bars for a nonviolent marijuana offense that the governor ultimately commuted. He had been sentenced to life, and the 61-year-old became a symbol of the failed war on drugs. He has now been free for three days.
Supporters from around the country have stepped up to help him with a GoFundMe page. The page was created by his niece Amber Ward. Mizanskey’s lawyer, Dan Viets, is ensuring all the money goes directly to Jeff.
He plans to use it for living expenses, but if he has enough, he also wants to travel and share his story, which embodies why the war on drugs is a failure. His campaign for clemency attracted 391,254 Change.org petition signatures, a plea from the prosecutor who asked for the sentence, a bill proposed by Missouri Rep. Shamed Dogan, a letter for clemency from 126 Missouri lawmakers, billboards in prominent locations, including the state capitol of Jefferson City, a documentary about his plight, a commuted sentence from Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and a successful review from the parole board. The story about his release has run in hundreds of media outlets around the world.
“He saw rapists, murderers and child molesters get out of prison while he was sentenced to die behind bars for something that should not be a crime to begin with,” said his lawyer, Dan Viets.
Apart from nonviolent marijuana offenses, Mizanskey has no prior criminal convictions. The harsh sentence was a result of Missouri’s “prior and persistent drug offender” law, a law which was repealed by the Missouri General Assembly, in 2014, effective January of 2017.
Born on April 25, 1953, Mizanskey grew up in Chicago, attended Hubbard High School, and worked as a mechanic in “Harry’s Garage,” which his father owned. He joined the Air Force in 1971 as a heavy equipment operator, was assigned to Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri and was honorably discharged in 1975. He and his wife settled in Sedalia, Missouri, and had two boys, Chris and Robbie. Mizanskey worked in construction and property management, often spending his free time fishing for catfish at Truman Lake.
On April 25, 1996, a Benton County jury convicted Mizanskey of felony marijuana possession.