A 61-year-old Missouri man serving a life sentence without parole for three marijuana felonies is asking Gov. Jay Nixon to grant him clemency.
Jeff Mizanskey has spent the last 20 years in prison after he was convicted and sentenced as a "prior and persistent drug offender" under Missouri law.
That law allows sentences of life without parole for people with three felony drug convictions. Police say the Sedalia man conspired to sell six pounds of pot to a dealer connected to Mexican drug cartels.
On Monday, supporters of Mizanskey's clemency effort delivered a petition with nearly 370,000 signatures to the governor's office.
"After 20 years of fighting to get somebody to listen. That people are listening, and there's a lot of them ... that's amazing," said Mizanskey's son, Chris Mizanskey, who is behind the petition drive.
KCTV5 News investigative reports Eric Chaloux went behind bars to the Missouri prison where Jeff Mizanskey is serving his life sentence.
"I'm not here to discuss guilt or innocence. My main concern is why am I treated differently than anyone else?" Jeff Mizanskey said. "I believe it is an unfair sentence."
When Jeff Mizanskey tells other prisoners his sentence for marijuana, they don't believe him. He struggles to understand it as well.
"I never figured a guy would get a life sentence for marijuana, let alone life without," he said. "I thought life without was for violent crimes, people who really needed to be in prison."
Jeff Mizanskey is the only person serving life with parole for the non-violent offense in the state.
He was convicted back in the early 1990s after his third felony arrest in Pettis County.
"If it is not now, then I don't know when it is. I mean, there's so many people behind the movement. There are so many people that think it's ridiculous," Chris Mizanskey said.
For this son, he hopes too that the changing view on marijuana around the country may mean the governor could free his father.
A spokesman for Nixon said the governor's office has received an official request for clemency and is currently reviewing the case.
The governor has granted only one petition taking a murderer off death row.
KCTV5 will keep checking for any developments in Jeff Mizanskey's case.
If you'd like to see the petition to urge the governor to grant clemency, click here.
Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Friday, April 25 2014 3:32 PM EDT2014-04-25 19:32:43 GMT
Wednesday, February 18 2015 4:24 PM EST2015-02-18 21:24:42 GMT
One inmate in the Missouri Department of Corrections system has a sentence unlike any other person behind bars. More >>
Marijuana is legal in many parts of the country, but a Missouri man is serving life in prison for possessing it. He has no more appeals and no hope for parole. KCTV5 News dug into his case and discovered something that could help his clemency request.More >>