Why Doesn’t Jared Fogle Get Life Without Parole Like Pot POW Jeff Mizanskey Did?
This may be a strange way to open this article, but every day at lunch, I walk a half-mile round-trip to my local Subway sandwich shop, where I order either a turkey or ham on wheat six-inch sandwich. I exchange the chips for apple slices and get the 5-calorie light lemonade to drink. And yes, I am a fat guy inspired to eat less and exercise by the example of Jared Fogle.
Not so much an inspiration anymore, though. As you know, Jared copped a plea in an investigation over Jared’s possession of child pornography and crossing state lines to pay to rape minors. (Um, CNN, you can’t “have sex” with a minor. It’s rape.) As part of the plea deal, Jared will likely serve five to twelve-and-a-half years in prison.
In other words, Jared might do less than half the time in prison as “three strikes” non-violent marijuana offender.
Jeff Mizanskey is being freed from a Missouri prison today after twenty-one years. When Jeff had completed his fifth year of incarceration, Jared was just coming to the public’s attention as the obese college student who lost weight with Subway.
Jeff didn’t do anything so heinous as rape a child. Jeff was a weed dealer. Not your shoot-‘em-up, bribe-cops, run-with-a-gang kind of dealer cops want you to believe all of them are. Rather, Jeff was “the guy” that most longtime marijuana consumers eventually come to know – laid back, easy going, friendly, able to get his hands on an ounce of weed if you wanted some.
In 1984, when Jared was just seven years old, Jeff was busted for selling an ounce to someone who gave it to a snitch who tipped off cops who then raided Jeff’s house and found a half-pound of pot. Strike one.
In 1991, Jeff was busted again for possession of between 2 and 3 ounces of weed. Over 35 grams, about an ounce and a quarter, is a felony in his state of Missouri. Strike two.
In 1993, Jeff was busted a third time, but this time he was just driving someone else to a location to make a weed deal. It turned out to be a sting operation and that rideshare was enough to land Jeff a conspiracy charge. Strike three.
Missouri has a law called the “prior and persistent drug offender” act. It’s basically a “three-strikes” law that allows the judge to sentence the convicted to time equivalent to a Class A felony, the harshest penalty below death. In 1994, Judge Theodore Scott sentenced Jeff to life in prison for giving someone a ride to a weed deal, because twice before, Jeff had been caught with over 35 grams of marijuana.
No guns. No violence. No coercion. And most assuredly, no child porn or child rape. Life in prison. And as if that wasn’t harsh enough, in a new trial ordered by the Missouri Court of Appeals in 1996, Jeff was convicted again and was again sentenced to life in prison by Judge Scott. While the judge didn’t mention “without the possibility of parole” in his oral sentencing, it got written that way in official documents that lawyers fought years to get resolved, to no avail.
The men involved in the weed deal that Jeff’s conspiracy charge was tied to, a deal that found eighty-six pounds of marijuana in their possession, they “were set free years ago”, according to a heartfelt plea of clemency for Jeff written by his son Chris on a Change.org petition. The “prior and persistent drug offender” act has been repealed, effective 2017.
After close to 400,000 petition signatures and pleas from 126 Missouri lawmakers and the original prosecutor in Jeff’s case, Governor Jay Nixon signed a petition for clemency for Jeff Mizanskey. This morning, he walked out of the Jefferson City Correctional Center a free man, finally able to meet children and grandchildren who had been born while he sat in his cell, watching murderers, thieves, and rapists – like Jared Fogle – come and go doing far less time than he.
Imagine Jared Fogle not walking out of a prison until 2036, instead of sometime in the next president’s second term. Imagine a nation where child rapists get life without parole instead of guys in Missouri doing what’s legal with a license in four states now.
Think about it. I’ve got to go walk my dog and get a sandwich.