Jeff Mizanskey wants you to write the governor.
The only person in Missouri serving a life without parole sentence for nonviolent, marijuana-only charges, Mizanskey says he is overwhelmed by all the attention his case has received over the past year, which included nationwide coverage and a Change.org petition with nearly 500,000 signatures asking Governor Jay Nixon to give clemency to the 61-year-old prisoner.
But Mizanskey is still in the same place he has been in for the past 21 years. So he called Daily RFT to ask readers for a favor: Write Nixon a letter. Here's Mizanskey's official statement:
Hello to everyone out there. Thank you all for your help, signing the petition, and making calls to the governor. I appreciate the concern and help. Unfortunately, I am still in prison, but I have some good news and some bad. Good news first: I just found out last week that I'm going to be a great grandpa sometime this year. I just pray I can be there for my great grandchild. As you all know, I could not be there for my grandkids. With all of your help, that's possible.
Now the bad news: I've been sitting in prison going on 21 years for a nonviolent crime. I still have not heard much of anything from the governor. I was told by Tony [Nenninger], my lawyer, that he talked to one of the governor's men and was told that there have been around 1,000 calls and about 100 letters since, as well as 470,000 signatures on the petition.
Thank you all for what you have done. Unfortunately, Tony also told me that the governor pays more attention to letters most of all. So now I have to come back to you all and ask for more help. If you can find a few minutes to send a short letter to the governor, I know it would help. I don't have anyone else to ask but all of you. Thank you all again. Please write and call the governor.
I'd also like to give a special thanks to Show-Me Cannabis - especially John Payne and Amber Langston, Tony Nenninger, my son Chris, brother Mike, and everybody else who has helped.
For those who would like to contact Nixon, here's his info:
Office of Governor Jay Nixon P.O. Box 720 Jefferson City, MO 65102 Phone: (573) 751-3222
Mizanskey tells us that life in prison hasn't changed much since his story went viral on the Daily RFT blog last year. He has received a few more letters and had a few visits from reporters.
"Food's gotten worse. But you can survive if you hold your nose when you eat it," Mizanskey jokes.
But that's about it. The former building contractor still does what he's been doing for most of the time he has been locked up: working 38 hours a week building furniture for the Missouri Department of Corrections and training new prisoners on the job -- something he takes pride in doing.
See also: - Meet Jeff Mizanskey, Missouri's Only Inmate Sentenced to Death in Prison for Pot - Gov. Nixon Evades Questions About Jeff Mizanskey, Man Serving Life in Prison for Pot - "Free Jeff Mizanskey" Efforts Continue with Billboards and 360,000 Signatures
"At least they got a background they can fall onto," Mizanskey says about teaching new prisoners job skills. "They can go into construction, redoing homes, build furniture. At least they won't be left out there doing nothing."
With some of the younger people he comes across, Mizanskey says he tries to pass along some of the wisdom he's learned the hard way.
""I try to talk to a few of these young guys that come in here and try to straighten them out," he says. " I use myself as an example: 'This really is not the life that you want. Straighten yourself out.'"
Mizanskey says that he's noticed some common themes among younger prisoners: They sometimes don't know how to control their temper and don't think about consequences of their actions.
"Some of them have aggression and other problems. They need to look at what they're doing," Mizanskey says. "A lot of them want to blame everybody else all the time. I try to get them to look at themselves and sit down and actually think. I also try to get them to think before they do something instead of just reacting. Stop and think about it before you do it."
He adds: "Most of them are one day getting out, so I hope they take it to heart."
This week, Washington State implemented its marijuana for recreational use law, officially becoming the second state in the country after Colorado where people can legally buy pot from sellers who move much more than the five to seven pounds Mizanskey was busted for more than twenty years ago.
New York recently became the 23rd state to allow medical marijuana.
Serving a life without parole sentence for marijuana at a time when marijuana laws are changing so drastically has been a theme of Mizanskey's story since last year. He hopes more people bring this to the governor's attention by writing letters. He also hopes people vote.
"Register to vote, let your opinions be heard, because the people are supposed to be running the government, not the government running the people," Mizanskey says. "It's been too long that the minority is leading the majority because the majority wants to sit around and do nothing. That's a shame. If the people actually went out there and did things, I think a lot of things would change."
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E-mail him at Ray.Downs@RiverfrontTimes.com.
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