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Lawmakers eye bill aimed at releasing non-violent offenders facing life sentence

Missouri legislators are considering a bill that would release non-violent offenders from prison who are in for life.

The only person with such a sentence is Jeff Mizanskey.

Last month ABC 17’s Joey Parker visited with Mizanskey in person to speak with him about his unique sentence.

Mizanskey is in prison for life without parole for non-violent marijuana convictions.

Wednesday morning, Mizanskey’s case was the focus of a public hearing on House Bill 978 that would set him free after 21 years in prison.

Several people testified in favor of the bill to free Mizanskey and no one testified against it.

His brother, Michael Mizanskey, gave a very emotional testimony.

“The saddest and most heart, I’m sorry, wrenching thing I had to do was travel from Chicago to Jefferson City Correctional Center to be with my mother, who was dying from cancer so, she and Jeff could say their final goodbyes,” said Mizanskey’s brother.

Bill sponsor Shamed Dogan said there are a few reasons he brought the bill forward.

“I presented this bill as a way for us to save taxpayers money and to right an injustice,” said Dogan, a republican from Ballwin, Missouri.

According to Dogan, Mizanskey’s life sentence without parole for 3 marijuana convictions is “poor public policy and bad timing”.

Representative Justin Hill, a republican from St. Charles, used to work for the DEA in St. Louis.

“I’ve charged people in federal court with a thousand pounds of marijuana and they got quite a lesser sentence than this,” said Hill.

Representative Penny Hubbard, a democrat from St. Louis City, was shocked Mizanskey is in prison for life over marijuana convictions.

“I just want to tell you that I will be supporting your piece of legislation,” Hubbard said to the bill sponsor.

The prosecutor in Pettis County at the time also said he feels Mizanskey has served his time in prison.

In his 21 years in prison, Mizanskey has been written up twice, once for having a messy cell floor and the other for placing a piece of mail in the wrong bin.

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