By Danielle Marie Mackey
By Lindsay Toler
By Lindsay Toler
By Lindsay Toler
By Lindsay Toler
By Danny Wicentowski
By Lindsay Toler
By Paul Friswold
"We got a new doctor, and he said it should have been removed back then," explains Mizanskey of the unsightly growth. "But if they removed it now, it might do some damage because there might be nerves grown inside it."
His battered physical condition notwithstanding, Mizanskey recently has become something of a poster boy for one of the hottest topics of the day — marijuana reform. Last month his plight went viral — first on pro-legalization websites and later in mainstream media such as Huffington Post — when news broke of his request that Governor Jay Nixon void his sentence.
"Since I've been here in prison, I've met lots of people in for murder, rape, robberies, all kinds of violent crimes. I've seen a lot of them go home on parole," says Mizanskey, whose wife divorced him and whose two sons reached adulthood during his time behind bars. "Don't I ever get a chance?"
In his two decades in prison, 21 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized the sale of medical marijuana, and 2 of those states have passed laws allowing for its recreational use, and cities such as St. Louis and Detroit have decriminalized small amounts of the drug. Mizanskey, meanwhile, was sentenced under Missouri's Prior and Persistent Drug Offender statute, a decades-old law that enables judges to impose prison terms ranging from ten years to life in prison without parole for those convicted of three drug-related felonies.
Other states have three-strike laws for nonviolent offenders, but Missouri is unique in that it has "a separate persistent felony law just for drug offenses that ratchets up the extreme sentences more quickly than the regular persistent felony law," says Chloe Cockburn, a civil-rights attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union in New York. "As far as we know, Missouri is the only state that does this."
Seated in the prison waiting room, Mizanskey tearfully recounts how he first learned the true magnitude of Missouri's Prior and Persistent Drug Offender statute. It occurred six years into his prison term in 2001. Until then, Mizanskey says, he had been under the belief that his sentence came with the chance of parole. He says he even received notice from the parole board informing him that he would be eligible for release in 2005. It was only when an appellate-level public defender began preparing the paperwork for Mizanskey's parole that the prisoner discovered the awful truth.
"The attorney put down in there that I had life without the possibility of parole, and I said, 'Well, that's gotta be wrong. They didn't tell me any of that," Mizanskey recalls.
More paperwork brought confirmation from the Missouri Department of Corrections. Mizanskey was indeed sentenced to die within its walls.
"When I got the letter back from the parole board, I was ruined," he says. "You get information like that — there's not really a whole lot you can say about it. It's the end of the world."
Mizanskey wasn't the only one confused about his sentencing. So, too, was the lawyer who represented him at trial.
"I wasn't aware it was life without parole. I thought it was a life sentence," says attorney Randall Brown Johnston when reached by phone last month. "This is coming completely out of left field."
Jeff Mizanskey readily admits that he was something of a stoner back in the day.
"I did construction work, and I'd be sore when I got home. So I smoked a joint," Mizanskey explains. "I didn't drink. I didn't like to drink because my father was an alcoholic and I had seen that growing up. So I smoked."
Occasionally he'd also sell a bag of weed.
"Just friends, people I knew, to supplement my own habit," he says.
One of those drug sales would lead to his first felony. In 1984 Mizanskey sold an ounce to a relative, who ended up selling the bag to an undercover cop. The police linked the bag back to Mizanskey and obtained a search warrant. Inside his home police found about a half-pound of pot and arrested Mizanskey for felony possession of over 35 grams of marijuana and felony sale of a controlled substance. Rather than pay to fight it in court, Mizanskey pleaded guilty and got five years of probation.
That was strike one.
Seven years later Mizanskey was off probation and doing well for himself. He was still married then and active in his boys' lives. He had started his own construction business and managed a small crew that did remodeling jobs for homeowners and businesses. One of his biggest jobs was developing an apartment complex. Talking about it more than two decades later, Mizanskey remains proud of the work he did.
"We built a pretty nice place there," he says. "Swimming pool, hot tub, indoor tennis court, indoor garage and 27 apartments made out of a derelict building that was sitting around."
After the project was completed, Mizanskey says the owner asked him to take care of it by supplying needed repairs and showing apartments to prospective tenants. Mizanskey took on the work while continuing to run his construction business. And after a hard day's work, he continued his habit of smoking pot.
Shane coats are you saying your sins are worthy if less punishment? You probably over eat, cheat on you're spouse, touch kids,and get off on porn, and kick animals. Its hard to believe that this world is lead by evil arrogant power hungry selfish hypocritical clock suckers like you. Have you hugged your mom lately? Pot is like alcohol just more mellow and less VIOLENT
Jeff Mittelhauser is a scum, and is now a judge. Familiar trajectory, look at Scalia and most of the US "Supreme Court." If that statue of Lady Justice came alive, She would swiftly kick the shit out of these government criminals who defile her name.
I feel bad for his kids. Why the heck did he not stop slinging weed after strike 2? It should've been obvious to anyone that he wasn't cut out for that line of work.
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That's because meth production has been so crippled that only the cartels are manufacturing for a profit at this point :(another bag of apples) Meanwhile, Hemp/Cannabis is such a potent economic force that any person who can grow a weed can create an in-demand product. That, in itself, is amazing. They don't want you coming up though, this is all a gamed-up law scenario that has enabled the ruling of class of corporations to dictate the punishment onto a person for a plant.
thank you for sharing his story....just got off the phone with Jeff and he wanted you all to know how thankful he is ...... and to please call the governor..
Animal abusers get their victims given back to them, yet this guy, who hurt no one, is in jail for life. Our justice system is BULLSHIT.
But in my community, you can blow up your house with meth and get NOTHING! Maybe a slap on the hands.... Or if you play your cards right, you can get a local church to rebuild the house you blew up, give you clothes and money to restart your life, and no charges filed.
Missouri will likely see a ballot initiative in 2014 to legalize medical marijuana. Let's hope someone with some common sense that has the power to do something looks at this case.
I wonder what the prosecutor will say to God when he is about to be thrown into Hell "with no hope of parole". Somehow I don't think he will think that a "fair" sentence. People like him are the problem with this country. He makes himself bigger, trying for the Statehouse, while walking over the bodies of the people he so overzealously prosecutes. What a disgrace to the law. Justice is supposed to be balanced with mercy, but mercy, compassion, common sense and impartiality all died at the hands of republican fear mongers under Ronny Raygun -- the actor, and then continued under the House of Bush. As far as the prosecutor in this case -- maybe someone should lock him in a cell; place a banquet of food and drink just out of his reach -- and just walk away. Sentence: Life in the cell without the possibility of food.
This is an absolute outrage. I pray that he gets out and soon. Marijuana is the least of the world's problems!! Worry about something that matters.....this man's life!!!!
What a waste of good Nanny State money. We all know, marijuana is only dangerous if you're caught with it!
This story perfectly defines the atrocities of Marijuana Prohibition.
Atrocity (-trs-t)n. pl. a·troc·i·ties
1. Appalling or atrocious condition, quality, or behavior; monstrousness.
2. An appalling or atrocious act, situation, or object, especially an act of unusual or illegal cruelty inflicted by an armed force on civilians or prisoners.
As long as he has been in prison for his crime, Sedalia should be a drug free city. Well, its not. Its probably worse than it was before this man went to prison. These people that hold these offices and are suppose to uphold the law, only do so when it benefits them. I am sure the one's who own these private prisons are making money hand over fist off of people that are poor. I am sure there is a meth house on every other corner, if not every corner. Let the man go, he is not bothering anybody. He was not out harming other people. He was minding his own business and making a living for his family.
3 strikes and you are out was a knee jerk thing. It needs to be looked at, bunch this damn bunch in Jefferson City could make it worse.
blanket amnesty would not likely be the way to go.. but having a really really hard look at our incarceration policies and helping those that are clearly victims of it seems overdue at this point
Hrrrmmm...I guess, since I don't hear the same "Hew and cry" over this, that it MUST be OK while prison for life for drug offenses is not: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/12/09/iran-charm-offensive-belies-mounting-body-count-from-executions-at-home/
Well there's another [fill in the blank] heard from: Our "lovely government" can tax, regulate, mandate and charge anything WE damn well tell them to. It's called a representative republic Victoria. Witness ObamaCare. Get back to school, understand our form of government then come back and comment accordingly.
Well at least here's someone involved. I'm not so sure blanket amnesty is the solution but at least it's a proposal.
Doesn't matter if you "buy into" the social contract or not. Violate it and find out what happens to yer ass.
Nope: He broke several codified laws supported by society, went to trial as proscribed by society, was judged by society and sent to prison by society. A travesty of justice is when the rapist/child molester/murderer gets off on a technicality.
Question: Did you get a second chance after doing something patently stupid but not illegal or did you get a second chance after committing a felony? Two different things. The felon get's a second chance after doing his time. If you don't like the sentence, work towards increasing or reducing it.
Why is it people have lost sight that he's a drug dealer? He wasn't some dude who happened to get popped with a joint in the ashtray. This guy had enough pot to sell to all the kids in my entire town. A drug dealer is a drug dealer no matter the drug. He's right where he belongs. They need to increase the time and punishments for drug offenses. Maybe that would be a start to cleaning all these trash felons off the streets.
No he could die in prison because (he ) broke a law. Many innocents have died during his days So don't feel bad for him. Change the laws and move on. Fuck him.
@el_urogallo Did you not read the whole story?
Really though, all non violent drug offenders should be released immediately.
The less time they spend around real criminals, the better. For us and them.
If you think law equates with morality and justice, I know a few countries that you might want to visit.
but those technicalities are found in codified laws (procedural statutes) supported by society, proscribed by society, and constitutionally validated by the same judiciary you refer to. Either you support the law 100% or you can admit that some laws are bad laws. You think the law that lets a murderer go on a technicality is a bad law, because you don't understand the 900 years of so of jurisprudence and case law which have lead to the adoption of those principles of justice. I think a law that routinely over imprisons non violent offenders is a bad law because I have a brain.
You, sir, are full of shit. Felons do NOT get a second chance anymore. They come out of prison to a world of fear and hate. A world of nearly universal background checks for every job. Most people coming out of prison have nothing except the "gate money" some state give them to get to the next town from the prison. This has become a society of labelers, putting everyone into nice little categories. If you fall into the category of felon -- you better learn to be a better thief because nobody is wiling to give a second chance.
you suffer from the illusion that illegal and immoral are equivalent. Most crimes are both but some are only the former. We should only punish for the latter imo
Um I believe that Jesus has a good word in the bible that says love your neighbor and forgive and not judge. Just because his sin wasn't the same as yours doesn't mean he deserves life in prison. Bible also says every sin equals death. All men are equal and no judge is better than any servant and those who keep faith through out life no matter what in repentance and acceptance in Christ shall no man be turned away from by Jesus.
You win the stupidest commenter here award. What a blockhead comment. We don't need people like you. People like you should be put in prioson. Alcohol and tobacco are the real killers. I dislike your attitude more than can be stated here, and you have extreme character flaw.
Firstly, you have no evidence he was selling to kids, you have as much evidence of that as you do the local liquor store is doing the same.
I detect so much crazy coming from you it's not funny. I bet you hear that often. This article is about how non violent offenders are routinely over punished, and this guy is facing life without parole for selling weed, or being with someone selling weed if you believe him. Doesn't matter if you do, how could you say that the time and punishments are too low? how is that even an option? People like you are the reason why America is the laughing stock of the world when it comes to criminal law and justice. I can tell fact checking is a difficult exercise for you, but do a very quick google search for the relationship between incarceration periods and drug offences before you open your mouth and make a fool of yourself the next time. If you were actually concerned for the chiildren of your town you'd advocate for regulation rather than criminalization.
You must be a cop -- or persecutor (spelled the way I mean it). Probably drive drunk from the bar and then put down a guy for smoking some weed. Pull your backwoods ass into the 21st century and look around. Weed is coming in and hopefully, people like you will be going out.