Justice served: A Missouri man is free after serving 19 years of a life sentence for selling pot.

In 1996, Jeff Mizanskey was sentenced to life in prison for selling marijuana. On September 1, 2015, he was finally released.

Photo via Free Jeff Mizanskey/Facebook.


When Mizanskey was convicted, Missouri law allowed anyone who could be considered a "persistent drug offender" to be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Since Mizanskey had already been convicted of two drug offenses, he was sent away for life.

After nearly 20 years behind bars, his family was shocked and thrilled in May when they heard that Governor Jay Nixon had decided to commute his sentence to include the possibility of parole.

They were even more thrilled when parole was almost immediately granted.

"There's probably not enough words to describe how awesome it was and amazing of a day it was to get my dad back," Chris Mizanskey, Jeff's son, told Upworthy.

Jeff and Chris MIzanskey. Photo via Free Jeff Mizanskey/Facebook.

"It really did take the times to change, and people to start realizing that marijuana wasn't the evil drug they made it out to be."

Chris credits the the successful legalization efforts in Colorado and Washington, and petition drives held by groups in Missouri for helping change public attitudes about marijuana, persuading lawmakers to support his father's release.

Mizanskey's original sentence was highly unusual for his crime, even by the often-draconian standards of drug convictions in many U.S. states.

Photo via Free Jeff Mizanskey/Facebook.

A clemency petition written by Mizanskey's lawyers notes that, while Mizanskey was sentenced to life in prison for conspiring to sell seven pounds of marijuana, the "leader of an international organization importing and distributing multi-ton shipments," was sentenced to only eight years in prison.

It goes on to mention that the subject of the "biggest maritime marijuana arrest on the West Coast," was sentenced to 10 years, and released after serving only four.

Despite the increased support for criminal justice reform from policymakers, drug offenders continue to turn up in prisons at alarming rates.

A report from the FBI cites drug abuse violations as the single highest arrest category in the United States, with over 1.5 million arrests in 2012.

As of July 2015, drug offenders were the single highest subpopulation in federal prisons, nearly triple the next highest category.

A spokesperson for Governor Nixon's office declined to comment on whether the governor would be issuing more sentence commutations to non-violent drug offenders.

Now that he's free, Mizanskey plans to advocate for the legalization of marijuana.

"He's going to advocate for legalization. He doesn't want anyone else to be stuck in his situation," Chris said.

"No one really does belong in jail for a plant."

In the meantime, his family is overjoyed to have him back after the long struggle to free him.

Jeff meeting his great-granddaughter for the first time. Photo via Free Jeff Mizanskey/Facebook.

"He'll be here the rest of his life and the rest of mine, and that's the best thing in the world," said Chris.

And the celebration doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

"Oh my goodness, I think he's ate so much food we're going to have to go join a gym."

More
Courtesy of Houseplant.

In America, one dumb mistake can hang over your head forever.

Nearly 30% of the American adult population — about 70 million people — have at least one criminal conviction that can prevent them from being treated equally when it comes to everything from job and housing opportunities to child custody.

Twenty million of these Americans have felony convictions that can destroy their chances of making a comfortable living and prevents them from voting out the lawmakers who imprisoned them.

Many of these convictions are drug-related and stem from the War on Drugs that began in the U.S. '80s. This war has unfairly targeted the minority community, especially African-Americans.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

Climate change is happening because the earth is warming at an accelerated rate, a significant portion of that acceleration is due to human activity, and not taking measures to mitigate it will have disastrous consequences for life as we know it.

In other words: Earth is heating up, it's kinda our fault, and if we don't fix it, we're screwed.

This is the consensus of the vast majority of the world's scientists who study such things for a living. Case closed. End of story.

How do we know this to be true? Because pretty much every reputable scientific organization on the planet has examined and endorsed these conclusions. Thousands of climate studies have been done, and multiple peer-reviewed studies have been done on those studies, showing that somewhere between 84 and 97 percent of active climate science experts support these conclusions. In fact, the majority of those studies put the consensus well above 90%.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature
via James Anderson

Two years ago, a tweet featuring the invoice for a fixed boiler went viral because the customer, a 91-year-old woman with leukemia, received the services for free.

"No charge for this lady under any circumstances," the invoice read. "We will be available 24 hours to help her and keep her as comfortable as possible."

The repair was done by James Anderson, 52, a father-of-five from Burnley, England. "James is an absolute star, it was overwhelming to see that it cost nothing," the woman's daughter told CNN.

Keep Reading Show less
Heroes

I live in a family with various food intolerances. Thankfully, none of them are super serious, but we are familiar with the challenges of finding alternatives to certain foods, constantly checking labels, and asking restaurants about their ingredients.

In our family, if someone accidentally eats something they shouldn't, it's mainly a bit of inconvenient discomfort. For those with truly life-threatening food allergies, the stakes are much higher.

I can't imagine the ongoing stress of deadly allergy, especially for parents trying to keep their little ones safe.

Keep Reading Show less
popular