Jeff Mizanskey will be released from prison in approximately two weeks, after serving more than two decades in prison for marijuana charges. His parole hearing was last Thursday and Mizanskey expected the parole board to take four to six weeks before making a decision on his fate.

Jeff Mizanskey

Jeff Mizanskey

He says getting paroled has revitalized his faith in human kind.

“For so many years I’ve sat in here for marijuana. I was given a sentence of death. It’s life without parole but that’s basically a death sentence in prison,” says Mizanskey. “I saw these guys sentenced for raping kids, doing murders and burglaries and they were getting out on parole. All I could think of is what has this world come to.”

Mizanskey says doing drugs again isn’t worth going back to prison.

“A promise I made to my mother before she passed away was that I would never break a law intentionally again,” says Mizanskey. “To me, I take that to heart and that’s just the way it’ll be. Unless it’s legal all the way around, I couldn’t get near it.”

Mizanskey was the only man sentenced to life without parole for marijuana possession and distribution under a persistent offender sentencing law from the 1990s that has since been changed.

A petition with nearly 400,000 signatures was delivered to Governor Nixon in April asking for clemency for Mizanskey and in May the Governor commuted his sentence, giving him his first chance at parole. The signatures of 128 legislators were among those on the petition.