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“This Week:” Jeff Mizanskey released from prison, home for Labor Day

ABC 17’s Joey Parker caught up with Jeff Mizanskey, who was released from prison Tuesday, to talk about his new life as a free man. This is a transcription of that interview.

PARKER: “What does that feel like, when people stop you and just tell you-“

MIZANSKEY: “Uh, it’s, uh, it feels great. But, uh, you know, really I’ve been camera shy my whole life. So this is all new to me. And, uh, all the attention is just almost overwhelming, but, uh, it’s gotta be done because nobody else deserves to be locked up. It shows me there’s a lot of people behind it. Everybody. I bet you, uh her, that we just talked to, probably everybody knows somebody that uses cannabis one way or another. Whether it be them, a family member, a friend, or a, you know, somebody that they work with. And, uh, it can happen to one of them. Just one day all of the sudden, no more. They’re in prison because of these inadequate laws that we have.”

PARKER: “Now, I got an email from a guy named Leroy, a viewer, and he said he was very critical of the interview and said that we are advocating for marijuana. And, of course, as a news organization we don’t take any stands on an issue. We just let you be heard. But what do you say-he-his concern was the ruined lives, people being arrested, people who have been in a car accident, hit by someone who has been stoned. Um, what do you say to people like that who say there is a danger and it is a gateway drug?”

MIZANSKEY: “Huh, I think all they’d have to do is talk to my family about that, how their life’s been ruined. Let alone mine. I was in prison 22 years. I talked to thousands, talkin’ about thousands of men. And, uh, most of them are talkin’ about they got in trouble ’cause of hard drugs. And then they, uh, also talked about using marijuana to get down off of hard drugs and be able to get away from it. Uh, I think that’s a plus. I’d rather see somebody smoking a joint than, uh, taking a needle and shooting up with heroin. As far as advocating for getting high, or telling anybody to get high right now, I don’t. I actually tell them I wish they wouldn’t.”

PARKER: “So your message is: ‘Stay off drugs.'”

MIZANSKEY: “I’m saying ‘Do not smoke marijuana.’ Definitely stay off all the other drugs. And I’m saying that as, not because I think it’s wrong or harmful, I’m saying it because it could happen to them. The same thing that happened to me could happen to them, and it shouldn’t happen to anybody. Instead what I do is, I-I try to tell em, ‘Let’s get registered to vote.’ I mean, the government’s supposed to work for the people, so why don’t the people stand up?”

PARKER: “Are you going on a tour?”

MIZANSKEY: “I don’t know about a tour, I’m-I am on parole.”

PARKER: “What are the conditions of parole?”

MIZANSKEY: “I have to do some kind of a treatment. Uh, said something about ‘Pathways.’ I’m assuming it’s ‘Pathways to Change.’ I’m not sure. Although I’ve done all the treatment. You’ve seen the certificates that I’ve done in prison. Uh, I think it’s more out of concern that, uh, coming out after 22 years that I’m able to, uh, get back down to normalization, society, because things move at a whole different pace out here. And, uh, which is all right with me. It’s, uh, you know, I’ve been following along for a long time.”

PARKER: “What was that night like?”

MIZANSKEY: “Well it was, uh, almost overwhelming. I was sitting there with the family and, uh, really enjoying myself, and, uh, course that’s really the first time I got to my, uh, son’s place.”

PARKER: “Did you actually meet new family members?”

MIZANSKEY: “A bunch of em, yes. Uh, I just met my, uh, grandson, great-granddaughter-on the way out, I think you remember. It’s a whole other baby, it’s precious, and to know it’s family.”

PARKER: “As far as personally, the next thing for you, other than the advocacy of, uh, legalizing marijuana?”

MIZANSKEY: “Well, uh, of course, uh, the family’s first and foremost.”

PARKER: “Have you been fishing yet?”

MIZANSKEY: “Not yet. We’re, uh, we’re talking about it. But I’ve been, uh it’s so busy. And I’ve not had a chance to do it yet. In fact, I haven’t even had the chance to go get a fishing license. We’re actually, uh, talking about maybe sneaking away and doing a little fishing tomorrow. So if we get the chance and time.”

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