Pubdate: Fri, 30 Nov 2012
Source: Tulsa World (OK)
Copyright: 2012 World Publishing Co.
Author: Cary Aspinwall


KINGFISHER - The four reasons Patricia Spottedcrow most wanted out of
prison were back in her arms Thursday afternoon, after their mother
was released on parole.

Her children are 11, 6, 5 and 3 years old now. The youngest was just 1
when Spottedcrow began her prison sentence two years ago.

If Gov. Mary Fallin hadn't approved Spottedcrow's parole and if the
Pardon and Parole Board hadn't agreed to early consideration for her
case, her children might have all been teenagers by the time she got

Spottedcrow was released from Hillside Community Corrections Center in
Oklahoma City on Thursday morning after completing a community-level
sentence required by the governor as a condition of her parole.

Her 12-year prison sentence for selling $31 worth of marijuana
garnered widespread national attention after her story was featured in
a 2011 Tulsa World series on women in prison.

Spottedcrow originally faced a 12-year prison sentence out of
Kingfisher County for selling a "dime bag" of marijuana to a police
informant. She entered prison in December 2010 after spending a few
months waiting in the county jail.

After her story was published in the World, grassroots supporters
lobbied officials to reconsider Spottedcrow's punishment. Advocates
expressed concern for possible racial bias, disparate sentences for
drug crimes, Oklahoma's No. 1 female incarceration rate per capita and
the effects on children growing up with incarcerated parents.

Spottedcrow missed so much of her children's lives during her two
years in prison: potty training her youngest, first words, first days
of school, soccer games, birthdays and Christmas holidays.

She wants to make up for lost time and give her mother, Delita Starr,
a break from raising Spottedcrow's children in her absence, she said.

"Being away from my kids, that was enough for me to know I wanted to
change my life," she said.

Laura Deskin, Spottedcrow's attorney, said she first heard about her
client's case through another attorney and was "absolutely shocked" at
what had happened in Oklahoma's legal system.

Because children were in Spottedcrow's home when she was arrested, a
charge of possession of a dangerous substance in the presence of a
minor was added. Starr was also charged with the crime but was given a
30-year suspended sentence so she could care for Spottedcrow's
children while their mother was incarcerated.

Now, Deskin said she plans to focus on post-conviction relief for
Spottedcrow and the possibility of modification for the 30-year
suspended sentence Starr received for her role in the crime.

On the morning Spottedcrow was released, it took less than 20 minutes
for her to walk free.

She had to call a friend to pick her up. Her mother hadn't even
arrived from Kingfisher when corrections guards asked Spottedcrow to
leave the prison's grounds.

A friend drove her to a nearby pharmacy parking lot. There she would
reunite with her mother, Deskin, and Brenda Golden, an activist who
lobbied for Spottedcrow's sentence to be reviewed after seeing her
story in the World.

Her reunion with all four children had to wait until the school bus
arrived back in Kingfisher. Starr didn't want to ruin their perfect
attendance records, she said.

Tears streamed down her son Koby's face as his younger sisters stared
in disbelief to see their mom waiting as they walked off the bus.

Inside, as they hugged on the couch, her youngest, Ja'zalynn, climbed
from big brother's lap into her mom's arms.

"Wrap me up," Ja'zalynn said.

"I'm going to wrap you all up," Spottedcrow said.

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Case of Patricia Spottedcrow

In its award-winning "Women in Prison" series last year, the Tulsa
World first wrote about the case of Patricia Spottedcrow, a young
mother of four. She was sentenced to 12 years in prison in October
2010 after selling $31 worth of marijuana to an informant. Last year,
a Kingfisher County judge took four years off her sentence, and in
April, the Pardon and Parole Board recommended she be paroled. Gov.
Mary Fallin agreed but required her to spend 120 days in a
work-release program at a community corrections facility first.
Spottedcrow was released from prison Thursday after serving about two
years in prison.
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