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“In Missouri, Jeff racked up all three strikes without ever committing
an act of violence. He was a working class guy with a small side
gig as a low-level pot dealer. He never hurt anyone, never
brandished a weapon, and never sold to children.
Jeff calmly told me his story from across the table in the
visiting room. The guard stared at the floor as he half-listened
Strike one came in 1984 when Jeff sold an ounce of marijuana to
a close relative, who at some point gave or sold it to an
undercover police officer. The relative told police where he got it
in exchange for leniency, and his testimony was enough to get a
search warrant of Jeff’s home. The half-pound of pot found during
the search landed him with his first felony conviction and five
Strike two came in 1991. Police again received information from
an informant that was sufficient to obtain a search warrant of
Jeff’s home. This time, they found less than three ounces of
cannabis, but it was still more than the one and a quarter ounces
needed to trigger a felony charge. Unable to afford the legal fees
necessary to fight the charge in court, he pleaded guilty for the
Just two years later, Jeff gave a friend a ride to
a motel. The friend was there to buy a few pounds
of pot from a supplier, who was once again working
with the police and had helped them set up a sting operation. Jeff accompanied his friend into the motel room and allegedly handled a package of marijuana during thetransaction. He was arrested with what would end up being his third strike as they left the parking lot.
Jeff has been in a cell at the maximum security Jefferson
City Correctional Center (JCCC) ever since, nearly 21 years and counting.
…I asked Jeff about his future. He told me calmly that all of his appeal options have been exhausted. Unless the Governor of Missouri grants Jeff clemency and sets him free, he will likely die there.
He will never know his grandchildren, or his great-grandchild on
the way, outside the walls of the sprawling Jefferson City
Outraged by Jeff’s life without parole sentence for
You can contact Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to ask him to
grant clemency here:
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