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Mom of 4 reflects on first year in prison for $31 marijuana sale

Category: News | Posted on Mon, December, 26th 2011 by THCFinder
TAFT - Wearing prison-issue yellow clothes, Patricia Spottedcrow reflects on her first year in prison through the lens of tears and determination. 
 
One year ago, on the week of Christmas, the first-time offender was checked into the Eddie Warrior women's prison - the first holiday away from her four young children. 
 
"I cried and cried just thinking of my kids opening presents on Christmas and I wasn't there," she said. "This year, it's going to be any other day. I try not to keep up with days in here." 
 
At her mother's home in Kingfisher, there is a somber tone among her children - ages 2, 4, 5 and 10. 
 
"We're crying here too," said her mother, Delita Starr. "We'll try to make sure there is money in her account for a phone call. What else can we do?" 
 
Spottedcrow, 26, was arrested and charged for selling $31 in marijuana to a police informant in December 2009 and January 2010. Starr, 51, was also charged. 
 
Because children were in the home, a charge of possession of a dangerous substance in the presence of a minor was added. 
 
In blind pleas before a judge, Spottedcrow received a 12-year sentence and her mother received a 30-year suspended sentence. Neither had prior criminal convictions. 
 
The judge sentencing the two said she allowed Starr to avoid prison so she could care for Spottedcrow's children. 
 
When Spottedcrow was booked, after her sentence was handed down, marijuana was found in the jacket she was wearing. She pleaded guilty to that additional charge and was sentenced to two years running concurrent with the previous sentence. 
 
After her story was published in the Tulsa World, a groundswell of support grew. Supporters expressed concern with possible racial bias, unequal punishment among crimes, women in prison, effects on children of incarcerated parents and extreme sentences for drug offenses. 
 
Oklahoma City attorney Josh Welch has been donating his services to fight what he calls an inequitable punishment. 
 
In October, a Kingfisher County judge took four years off her sentence. The judge issued an order rather than allow her an appearance in court. Her attorney and supporters believe it was to avoid the crowd expected to be at the courthouse that day. 
 
Welch said he plans to file for post-conviction relief, alleging the original attorney was ineffective and had a conflict in representing Spottedcrow and her mother. He plans to make the filing in early January and submit an early parole packet at the same time. 
 
"We are grateful to get four years taken off her sentence but still believe the sentence is unjust and excessive," Welch said.
 

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