http://www.attn.com/stories/2999/jeff-m ... y-released
Mizanskey's release comes after years of effort from a slew of supporters, including his family, litigators, and marijuana activists who argued that his sentence was much too stiff, the Associated Press reports. Petitions, billboards, and a documentary, as well as a plea from the prosecutor who initially charged him, helped pave the way for his release.
"I've spent a third of my life in prison. One-third," an emotional Mizanskey, 61, told a gathered crowd following his release Tuesday. "That's a shame. This is America. I just can't believe it happened."
A press release described the case as a prime example of the failure of the war on drugs, in which a life sentence was handed down for a minor, nonviolent marijuana offense. "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 Dan Viets, Mizanskey's lawyer, in a statement.
The AP reports that Mizanskey was sentenced in 1996 following charges alleging he intended to sell six pounds of marijuana to a dealer with ties to Mexican drug cartels. He had two previous drug convictions in 1984 and 1991, one for possession and sale of marijuana and the other for possession. Under Missouri law at the time of his sentencing, persistent drug offenders were given life without parole. That law was repealed by the Missouri General Assembly last year. The repeal becomes effective in 2017. Mizanskey was the only inmate serving such a sentence, according to the AP.
The release comes after Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) agreed to commute Mizanskey's sentence in May, allowing the inmate to argue for his freedom.
"My father has never met his grandchildren and wasn't allowed to attend the funerals when his parents died," said his son, Chris Mizanskey in a statement. "His conviction devastated the family."