Governor Jay Nixon came to St. Louis on Friday for a ceremony celebrating the building of a dental school. And after the event, he finally addressed the topic of granting clemency to Jeff Mizanskey, the man who has been in prison for more than twenty years, serving a life without parole sentence for marijuana charges.
Well, maybe "addressed" is being a bit generous.
A reporter from KMOX (1120 AM) first brought up the Mizanskey case during a Q&A session after the ceremony. Referring to President Barack Obama's recent announcement that he will seek clemency for some nonviolent drug offenders serving excessive sentences in federal prison, the reporter asked Nixon about his views on doing something similar in Missouri. Here's a video of the exchange (apologies for the weird angle):
"Certainly the president is entitled to his opinion, but I'll keep my executive authority vis-à-vis the folks in our district -- that's something we do at the state level," Nixon says. "But we're constantly looking at areas where we can balance, shall we say, the scales of justice, but my sense is that we're busily engaged in the last three weeks of the legislative session on a number of things, but we'll go through our regular process and look through all petitions for clemency, as well as pardons."
Daily RFT then asked Nixon if he believes it is "just" for a person to serve a life without parole sentence for a nonviolent offense. Here's what he said:
"I think each case is separate, and we look at the entirety of their record and their cases, and we have a process in place to review all that," Nixon answered. "So I don't just pick a single act or occurrence out. We look at what the complete history is and we'll give all of these a full and thorough review."
Mizanskey, 61, is now serving his 21st year behind bars for being convicted of three marijuana felonies and charged as a "prior and persistent drug offender," -- a drug-specific three-strike law unique to Missouri. His third and most serious felony was for being involved in a buy for about six pounds of pot.
For more about Mizanskey's clemency efforts, click on the next page...
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