Jeff Mizanskey Set Free After Serving 21 Years. His Crime? Three Pot Charges


Originally released Sept. 8, 2015.

In 1996, Jeff Mizanskey was a dead man, sentenced to life without the possibility of parole because of three felony convictions. All were for non-violent, marijuana-related offenses. 

Mizanskey's three strikes included selling a small amount of pot to a relative, possessing less than three ounces in his home, and driving a friend to a motel to buy pot from an undercover officer.

That's it. No guns, no sales to children. For those offenses, he got a life sentence.

But thanks to the efforts of his lawyer, Dan Viets, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Missouri drug reform group Show-Me Cannabis, Gov. Jay Nixon commuted Mizanskey's sentence, which allowed him to win parole.  

Last week, Mizanskey walked out of prison, a free man for the first time in 21 years. Reason TV was on hand to cover the press conference outside the Jefferson County Correctional Center, where Mizanskey spoke of his imprisonment as "cruel and unusal," and lamented that he spent a third of his life behind bars while watching child molesters "come and go and come again and go."

Viets said that no adult should spend even one day in jail for growing marijuana or selling marijuana to other adults. Show-Me Cannabis co-founder Travis Maurer said Mizanskey's story "embodies the moral failure of the drug war…that ruins lives, fails to keep people safe, enriches cartels and costs taxpayers money."

Mizanskey ended the press conference by saying "I'd like to go get some steak and eggs," which he did, surrounded by joyous family members and supporters at a nearby diner shortly thereafter. 

Jeff Mizanskey admits he made mistakes, but three non-violent marijuana arrests robbed him of a third of his life because Missouri's "prior and persistent offender statute" removed all sentencing discretion from judges. The law that essentially ended Mizanskey's life has been repealed, effective next January. The reform came in large part because Mizanskey's case demonstrated the inhumanity of one-size-fits-all mandatory minimum sentencing rules passed at the peak of drug war hysteria. 

According to the ACLU, more than 3,200 people in the United States continue to serve life sentences without parole for non-violent offenses. Seventy-nine percent of these are for drug-related crimes, including marijuana. 

For his part, Mizanskey says he's looking forward to being with his family, getting back to work, and devoting the rest of his life to helping people avoid the same nightmare that was his existence just a few days ago. 

About 3.30 minutes.

Produced by Anthony L. Fisher. Camera by Derek Hammeke. 

Music: "Soft Power" by James Beaudreau (

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  1. About. Fucking. Time.

  2. Smoke ’em if ya got ’em!

  3. The war on drugs is wrong. Period.

    But it does exist. That said, if I were that dude, I’d keep the weed t-shirts in the closet for a while. What a fucking retard.

    1. So everyone who isn’t a coward like you is a retard. I see.

      1. He’s not brave, just stupid.

        This is not the guy who is going to about bring change to the system. He’s the guy who got fucked by the system 3 times because he’s not smart enough to get away with it. If you’re going to deal drugs where it’s against the law, don’t wear a fucking weed t-shirt.

        Again: Not brave. Just stupid.

      2. I’m sure you leave your car keys in the ignition and the doors open when you park your car at night.

        There’s such a thing as using common sense. Playa is correct that this guy is a retard. He should never have been imprisoned, but he’s still a retard and I wouldn’t be surprised if some cops saw that picture and vowed to find a way to get him locked back up just because he’s wearing that shirt.

    2. To be fair, the T-shirt appears to have been made for him by the organization that got him out of the hoosegow, so he could just be showing his appreciation…

      1. Yeah, I made that comment before I watched the video.

        Still, if I were him, I might have declined. He was not exonerated; his sentence was commuted so he could be paroled. It would be very easy to send him right back to prison, and it’s entirely possible that a petty bureaucrat would consider the shirt to be a parole violation.

  4. Cop, judges and the establishment need a police state to protect jobs and guard the elites assets. But its going too far with SWAT teams and wiretaps.

  5. In other War on Drugs news, more obituary for the 4th.

    The DEA has been able to access medical files as well as private state prescription drug records that track patient medical histories by using what are known as administrative subpoenas, which unlike warrants signed by a judge do not require probable cause.

    1. They can already do that in a number of ways. The 4th is dead.

      In CA, any law enforcement can look at the controlled substances database. Over the fucking internet.

      1. Law enforcement users must obtain, use and share this information with criminal justice partners only in conjunction with criminal investigative matters.

        Fishing expeditions are “criminal investigative matters” I assume? Any chance anybody can get a FOIA answer to how much information is collected on how exactly the database is accessed? Does the state monitor the users to see how much information they’re looking at, how broad or narrow their searches are? If I have the LEO credentials can I just log into the site and spend hours on end browsing or do I have to be looking at a specific list of doctors or patients?

        1. My understanding is that you can browse in your jurisdiction.

  6. Feel safer and better America now this guy paid his price?


    1. Paid his price?! I’d say another 40 years or so ought to do it.

      1. That 3 ounces could have ruined so many lives.

  7. This is why police lives matter.
    They keep you safe from monsters like this.

  8. In CA, any law enforcement can look at the controlled substances database. Over the fucking internet.

    Using their policeone user ID, for convenience?

  9. I don’t know how someone could come out of this and not simply explode in boiling rage at the world.

      1. I hope he found a trustworthy supplier.

  10. He was watching child molesters come and go multiple times? What a sick bastard!

  11. Well, if this dope fiend cannot learn after the first 2 arrests, then what choice do we have? I mean they’ve made hanging and burning at the stake illegal. We live in lawlessness and can’t go outside because of reefer zombies ruling the street and you want us to feel sorry for this monster?

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  13. The prison system is a hellacious concrete package brimming with millions of governmental misdeeds and every single person who has ever governed over this catastrophe is the perfect composite of a ruthless subhuman along with their fucking hordes of mindless voting drones.

    Praise be the fuckin’ lord for gubment- it is so goddamn good on mah mind, mamma.

  14. This article is factually incorrect to the point of being misleading. First off, the “friend” that he drove to the motel was Mexican Mafia, as was the person at the hotel, who the bumbling police seem to have let return to Mexico. Second, when you mention “helping out the cartels and Dan Viets in the same article, I must protest. He has made a fine living over the years “defending” cannabis cases and taken in quite a bit of money from the Cartels themselves. Such as the 17k I personally witnessed him take from someone who picked it up that day from their Cartel sponsor. It’s called pay to play. Jeff was/is no hero. Just a greedy small-timer, who sold out his country over a dope deal. Same as Viets. NORML has been at it what? 40 some odd years and their track record is dismal. St. Pierre calling medical users free loaders is disgusting. NORML is part of the problem. There is no justice in a justice system that takes humanity out of the picture and replaces it with unjust laws and people like Viets, who profit from them.

  15. nice

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