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

Patricia Spottedcrow has served one year of her prison sentence. Listen to Spottedcrow talk about her life, while her family talks about life without her.

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.

Patricia Spottedcrow poses on her bunk in a dorm at Dr. Eddie Warrior Correctional Facility in Taft, Oklahoma.Spottedcrow is one year into her 12 year prison sentence for selling a small amount of marijuana to a police informant with her children present in Kingfisher, Oklahoma.

Jayanna Rex, age 5, talks with her mother, Patricia Spottedcrow, on the phone at her grandmother's home in Kingfisher, Oklahoma.Patricia Spottedcrow, who has been in prison for a year, says that she tries to call her mother and the kids everyday.

Patricia Spottedcrow waits in the lunch line at Dr. Eddie Warrior Correctional Facility in Taft, Oklahoma.Spottedcrow is one year into her 12 year prison sentence for selling a small amount of marijuana to a police informant with her children present in Kingfisher, Oklahoma.

Patricia Spottedcrow's oldest child, Koby Leblanc prays with his grandmother Delita Starr (right) and his sisters before a meal at the family's home in Kingfisher Oklahoma.Patricia Spottedcrow has been in prison for a year.

Patricia Spottedcrow gets a hug from an inmate who is being released from Dr. Eddie Warrior Correctional Facility in Taft, Oklahoma. Spottedcrow has been in prison for a year.

Patricia Spottedcrow looks out of a window inside her dorm at Dr. Eddie Warrior Correctional Facility in Taft, Oklahoma.Spottedcrow is one year into her 12 year prison sentence for selling a small amount of marijuana to a police informant with her children present in Kingfisher, Oklahoma.

Delita Starr holds hands with her granddaughters Jayanna Rex (left) and Ja'zalynn Rex as she picks Ja'zelynn up from daycare in Kingfisher Oklahoma.The girls' mother, Patricia Spottedcrow, has been in prison for a year.

Patricia Spottedcrow lies on her bunk during an inmate count at Dr. Eddie Warrior Correctional Facility in Taft, Oklahoma.Spottedcrow is one year into her 12 year prison sentence for selling a small amount of marijuana to a police informant with her children present in Kingfisher, Oklahoma.

Delita Starr hugs Jayanna Rex, age 5, (left) and Ja'laizah Rex, age 4, at their home in Kingfisher, Oklahoma.Starr's daughter, Patricia Spottedcrow, has been in prison for a year.

Patricia Spottedcrow talks with other inmates at Dr. Eddie Warrior Correctional Facility in Taft, Oklahoma.Spottedcrow is one year into her 12 year prison sentence for selling a small amount of marijuana to a police informant with her children present in Kingfisher, Oklahoma.

Patricia Spottedcrow lies on her bunk during an inmate count at Dr. Eddie Warrior Correctional Facility in Taft, Oklahoma.Spottedcrow is one year into her 12 year prison sentence for selling a small amount of marijuana to a police informant with her children present in Kingfisher, Oklahoma.

Patricia Spottedcrow works in the laundry room at Dr. Eddie Warrior Correctional Facility in Taft, Oklahoma.Spottedcrow is one year into her 12 year prison sentence for selling a small amount of marijuana to a police informant with her children present in Kingfisher, Oklahoma.

Patricia Spottedcrow listens to the radio on her bunk during an inmate count at Dr. Eddie Warrior Correctional Facility in Taft, Oklahoma.Spottedcrow is one year into her 12 year prison sentence for selling a small amount of marijuana to a police informant with her children present in Kingfisher, Oklahoma.

Patricia Spottedcrow talks with other inmates as she waits in line for lunch at Dr. Eddie Warrior Correctional Facility in Taft, Oklahoma.Spottedcrow has been in prison for a year.

"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.

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.

Days blur in prison

 "The first eight months were a blur," Spottedcrow said. "I just cried a lot. It's like I woke up a couple of months ago."

 Her daily schedule starts with breakfast at 5:30 a.m., followed by her job in the laundry. At 4:30 p.m., she is released and goes to the gym, followed by dinner and then church at 7 p.m.

 "You have to try and keep your mind busy," she said. "It's easy to get sad, depressed and stuck in your own head in here."

 Prison is no picnic, even at a minimum-security campus like Eddie Warrior, she said.

 "I took for granted using the bathroom by myself, what clothes you can wear and being able to pick up and go to the store when you want," Spottedcrow said. "I hate not being able to use your own shampoo and you are limited to spending $10 a month (in the commissary)."

 But it's her kids taking up most of her thoughts.

 "I was there every day taking of care of them before this," she said. "I did everything from going to football games and PTA."

 While in prison, Spottedcrow has taken parenting classes, finished her GED and participates in a grief/loss recovery program, a behavior course, Alcoholics Anonymous/Narcotics Anonymous and a faith-based program. She is on a waiting list to begin higher education and Career Tech classes.

 "The life I was living before, that's over," Spottedcrow said. "I'm not playing with my life anymore. I would never chance this again for my children."

 Spottedcrow never denied she smoked pot but said she was never a drug dealer or ever used or sold marijuana in front of her children.

 "I got myself in this situation, and I'm not saying I shouldn't be punished," she said. "But I think this is a little excessive, especially looking at other cases from my county. And I'm sleeping next to people who have killed people, and they have less time than me. There are days I really can't believe I'm in prison."

 In prison, she has had three misconducts: one for bartering when she gave an inmate cigarettes, one for having contraband when cookies were found in her locker without a receipt and another for aiding and abetting when she did not tell authorities a woman put bleach in the laundry area.

 "I have a big heart," she said. "When I see someone in need, like for food, I want to help if I can. But you can get a misconduct in here for the littlest things."

'We struggle every day'

 In her classes, she has reflected on her life and changes that need to be made, including in her love life.

 When she entered prison, she was still in a relationship with her common-law husband, who is the father of three of her children. Now, that relationship is essentially over, and he has not been supporting or caring for the children either, she said.

 "The reality is - out of sight, out of mind," she said. "We were kids having kids. I'm taking it day by day right now. But when I get out of here, I'm only worrying about me and my kids. They are my first concern."

 And there may be some concerns to work through with her children.

 At the Kingfisher home, it's been a tough existence and one that is relying on the generosity and help of others.

 Spottedcrow's oldest child has been acting out since her incarceration.

 "He's in trouble for stealing, and his mouth is real swift and sharp," Starr said. "He blames me a lot for what happened to his mother. The girls want to cry a lot. They don't like to listen to me, saying, 'You're not my mother.' We struggle every day."

 Financially, the situation has been devastating at times.

 Starr earns $8 an hour at a truck stop and doesn't have a driver's license because of a conviction. Spottedcrow's oldest child pitches in with a few dollars from odd jobs he does at their church.

 Starr's utility and food costs have shot up since she took in the four children, and she owes $8,000 in court fines. As part of her sentence, she must take two drug tests a year, costing $150 each.

 "But there are other little things, like I couldn't buy their school pictures this year," Starr said. "At school, kids can buy popcorn for $1 on Fridays, and sometimes mine are the only ones not getting popcorn."

 But there are helping hands.

 When her washing machine broke down, the school principal's church purchased a new machine. She has a son and daughter who come over to help. People have been generous in sending needed clothes and donating food.

 Starr's health, however, has been in decline, with high blood pressure and a gall bladder surgery she has been putting off.

 "We go to church every week and pray," Starr said. "I wouldn't have made it this far without the Lord."

 The oldest child is seeing a counselor, but the other three are not.

 Starr admits she used to "party," which included smoking marijuana. But she has been sober since becoming a full-time caregiver for her grandchildren.

 "All that partying came to a halt," she said. "I look at my grandkids every day and know marijuana is what took away their mother. I don't want no more of that."

Ready for a reunion

 At Eddie Warrior, Spottedcrow spends a lot of time writing letters to her family and thinking about reuniting with them. She makes sure to send money she's earned from the laundry job to her children on their birthdays.

 "There are women in here who don't know where their kids are," she said. "I don't have to worry about that. I wouldn't trust my kids with anyone else but my mother. There are days in here I really miss my kids, but I can't say I worry about my kids."

 Her son has visited three times; the girls have been once. Because of the separation anxiety after the visit, no more visits are planned. Also, it takes about four hours to get to the prison, and the family has no car.

 "I talk to my baby and mom every day, sometimes two or three times just to get through the day," Spottedcrow said.

 "Prison changes you - it has to. It has definitely opened my eyes to things I was doing wrong. You see everything differently. You have a lot of time to think. You see and think about the negative stuff you were doing and the negative people around you and the stupid things you were doing."

 Spottedcrow would like to start her own business and is preparing for the difficulty in finding a job as a felon.

 First, she enjoys thinking of her release.

 "I'm ready for it, and I won't look back," she said. "When I get to my kids, we're going to be closed up in the house together for a while. I have a lot of making up to do."

Posted by Fiona Wednesday, December 28, 2011


  1. Anonymous Says:
  2. the government is a machine of misery.
    time to burn this lemon.
    poor woman.
    poor family.
    injustice cannot be more obvious.
    marijuana is illegal because the government is in bed with the alcohol and big pharma industries.
    there is no other reason...
    so, this woman suffers.
    her only crime?
    disobeying a bad law.
    she should get a medal for bravery.

  3. Anonymous Says:
  4. All while the crooks on wall street walk!

  5. Taylor, V. Says:
  6. 12 Years for marijuana? WTF is that?!!
    I agree - She should get a medal for doing time over a bad law.
    And I also agree with other comment, pointing out the gross hypocrisy of what Wall Street bankers are allowed to get away with. Marijuana users (and even official Marijuana Dealers)did not fraudulently foreclose on millions of Americans, nor tanked our economy, and we're still looking for a decent amount of perp-walks for those filthy rich bastards.

    Oklahoma f*ckin' sucks!

  7. Anonymous Says:
  8. Sad to see the corruption of our society. I can't believe this happens when people who steal billions don't get punished. This is hell on earth.

  9. Anonymous Says:
  10. Absurd marijuana laws, yet another violation of our rights. The gov’t constantly violates our rights.
    They violate the 1st Amendment by caging protesters and banning books like “America Deceived II”.
    They violate the 4th and 5th Amendment by allowing TSA to grope you.
    They violate the entire Constitution by starting undeclared wars.
    Impeach Obama, support Ron Paul.
    Last link of “America Deceived II” before it is completely banned:

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.  
  12. Anonymous Says:
  13. The punishment should suit the crime; if it does not then the punishment is unjust, and injustice is not lawful by any stretch of the imagination. That this woman got 12 years for such a minor offence is in itself criminal in my opinion, and the judge that sentenced her should be ordered to show cause regarding the stiffness of the sentence he imposed. If he can't justify the sentence, he should be charged with judicial bias and dismissed from the bench.

  14. Anonymous Says:
  15. How many people like Patricia Spottedcrow are in USA jails on related charges? How many tax dollars do Americans have to spend on these "criminals"? This is the REAL crime here! While "our leaders" commit or sanction crimes against humanity on a daily basis, little people like Patricia Spottedcrow are in jail for using/selling a substance that the BIG PHARMA special interests want demonized and made illegal, for obvious reasons! The LEGAL pharma drugs are the ones that kill(hundreds of thousands every year!) Meanwhile, the REAL benefits of marijuana are swept under the rug!

    "Land of the free . . . home of the brave?" YEA RIGHT!

  16. Anonymous Says:

  18. Anonymous Says:
  19. This story breaks my heart. Have the DA's in the case no soul? She's just another victim of the prison industrial complex.

  20. rich Says:
  21. unbelievable - is this really in the USA....not Iran ?

  22. Anonymous Says:
  23. Only in America - Lets all say "God Bless America"

  24. Anonymous Says:
  25. Arab Spring....American Spring. Is It time?

  26. Anonymous Says:
  27. I am a convicted felon and in all my felonies, the victim is the state. Fleeing to elude, battery on a law enforcement officer, driving with suspended license, possession of marijuana. There is a conspiracy with lawyers committing treason against the citizens of america. Judges, prosecutors, public defenders, most congressmen, and presidents are lawyers. They are writing tyranny into law.

  28. More, "hemp crime" in action. How proud the phony, "drug warriors", must be of themselves. While Wall Street banks, with total immunity, swim in a sea of laundered drug money. We are ruled by monsters.

  29. spirittoo Says:
  30. I don't believe this story. I don't believe someone can go to prison for 12 years with no chance of an appeal for selling $31 worth of pot.

    Why isn't something being done to help this woman?

  31. Anonymous Says:
  32. Time to smoke some high grade marijuana and think about the evil bastards who perpetuate such misery in this shit-hole known as America.

  33. Anonymous Says:
  34. A young mother rots in jail while high-level pedophiles, drug traffickers and war criminals skate.

    The so-called "war on drugs" is a war on the American people, whose slave labor is needed to profit the prison industrial complex.

    Gee, don'tcha just loooooooove Amuricah? Land of the free, home of the brave. Not like those nasty Chinese and North Kuhreans!

  35. Anonymous Says:
  36. Now if she had stolen $31 billion she would have gotten a pass.

  37. Anonymous Says:


  39. Anonymous Says:
  40. yes she was wrong BUT 12 YRS DAAAAAM!

  41. Anonymous Says:
  42. There is a blight upon us and it stinks!

  43. Anonymous Says:
  44. We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office. Aesop

  45. Anonymous Says:
  46. 12 years for possesion and passing on a small amount of weed is criminal! Murderers don't get that length of sentance here in New Zealand! Time she was let go and allowed to care for her young family! The law is an ass, wherever in the world you are!!

  47. Julie Croley Says:
  48. I'm going to do what I can to help her!

  49. Anonymous Says:
  50. Locking her up for any amount of time for possession OR sale of weed is tragic. The judge who did this should be put against a wall, blindfolded and dealt the highest hand.....

  51. Anonymous Says:
  52. america- land of the free. lol,
    cant believe some asshholes still believe that

  53. Anonymous Says:
  54. The only presidential candidate that believes people like Spottedcrow should never be put through this crazy shit is Ron Paul. It's remarkable that the main stream media morons are trying to paint Paul as a fringe candidate.

  55. Anonymous Says:
  56. If Americans would kick the A-Holes out and vote for Ron Paul, she will be free as will all the other folks who dared to smoke what God put on the planet and that the Satanists in government and mega corps unjustly tell us we can't use. Down with the babysitters, elect Ron Paul 2012!

  57. Anonymous Says:
  58. The real criminals are the ones handing out the justice. The American justice system is an abomination before god. There is no such thing as justice in America it's only a war on personal freedom.

  59. Anonymous Says:
  60. I am absolutely sickened by this. What a waste of good human lives to fill a bed in a corrupt "correctional" system.

  61. Anonymous Says:
  62. Marijuana is harmless and non-addicting. Alcohol is very harmful. Tobacco is very harmful. Pharmaceuticals are almost always very harmful, and many are addicting. Marijuana can be used for many medicinal purposes, with only (for most people) pleasant side effects. The real marijuana crimes are the laws against it, which rather than being victimless, cause real harm to those people being persecuted and their families. Meanwhile, the science is slowly getting out! Marijuana kills cancer cells (without harming normal ones), marijuana slows the progression of Alzheimer's, and actually stimulates neuron growth in the brain, while acting as a powerful anti-oxidant in the brain that protects the brain from damage by free-radicals. And that barely touches the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the healing properties of this most amazing plant. Of all plants, marijuana is the single most useful to our species. But it would interfere with the cancer industry!

  63. Anonymous Says:
  64. A premeditated murderer here in Ohio who hacked his victim into pieces and then burned his corpse in a local cornfield only got 6 years!!! Ahhhh justice how blind you are!!

  65. what can we do to help this woman? Can we write letters to some court, or phone, or email en masse to help this woman get out earlier, or can we help her children/family deal with is atrocity?

    By the way, did you all know that most if not all US prisons are privately owned, and they make a profit on the inmates, not the mention the cheap labor they offer as well.

    Please post if anyone knows any organized effort to help this

  66. Anonymous Says:
  67. Is there anything we can do to help this woman get her ridiculous sentence lessened? Is there a group out there in Oklahoma who has organized to help with this case? Can we write letters to her or her family to let them know they have at the very least emotional support? We are all in this together people. It could be anyone of us with the NWO showing its ugly head to opress and cause more needless suffering.

    By the way, did you all know most, if not all US prisons are privately owned and make a profit on the inmates, not to mention how they become a source of cheap labor too.

    Let this be a wake up call for what is planned for us, so that we can come together and help one another through all this madness. We will get through this as humanity is awakening more and more everyday.

  68. Anonymous Says:
  69. This us an outrage. America sucks!!!

  70. Kim Says:
  71. Hey you stupid, dumbed down Americans, I have a great idea and anti-dote to all this bulls#@t.... RON PAUL. The last and only hope.

  72. Anonymous Says:
  73. This is insane. Such a waste of life in order to enrich prison industry. This is why I wholeheartedly support the only man with enough integrity and principle to end this so called war on drugs, who has been talking about this since the 80s. Ron Paul. Large , special interests are now trying to discredit him for something he never wrote, but here he is in person, not quoted, paraphrased, etc:

  74. Anonymous Says:
  75. Ron Paul will pardon you when he becomes President in January 2013. This is what he calls a victimless crime. He has promised to pardon non-violent drug offenders. He will end the war on drugs, a war he calls a war against the people, mainly on poor communities of color. Vote Ron Paul.

  76. Anonymous Says:
  77. Ron Paul will pardon all non-violent drug offenders.

    Ron Paul 2012.

  78. Anonymous Says:
  79. fight the power

  80. Anonymous Says:
  81. If you want this madness to stop, VOTE RON PAUL. That's your only hope to stop that Non-sense, especially when we know that 50% of those who are in prison in the USA, are related to drugs, that's more than 1.2 million peoples behind bars.
    Come on, its time to wake up ! Ron Paul is authentic,truthful and honest.

  82. Anonymous Says:
  83. Lets be clear on this.....the system makes as much for a non-violent offender in their "for profit" prison system as they get for violent offenders....if you're running a "for profit' business of course you'd want the easy ones....moms. Kick backs paid to judges, kick backs paid to DA's, lobbyist pay off legislators to change laws to fill their for profit prison system with brown people... thus creating jobs for the economy and easy money for share holders. In the mean time all the kids who have lost their parents because of these stupid laws insure another generation of inmates to pay the salaries of this BIG business. Justice??? Hell no! Profit, profit and only profit matters in the land of the plea and the home of the enslaved.

  84. Anonymous Says:
  85. Stunned.
    How pathetic the Judge. Sentence him to 12 years for being an idiot
    . What a joke of a country. 12 years to a mother. I dont know what crime she would have to commit for me to sentence her to 12 years, but i imagine a few people would have to die.
    For selling Pot, omg, just a joke surely

  86. Anonymous Says:

  88. Anonymous Says:
  89. all the people that sent her to jail, will get terrible cancer.

  90. huddlstn Says:
  91. I'm not anonymous, I'm Don Cordell an Independent candidate for President this next Nov. Just Google my name. When I'm president I'll hang some of these cops and judges. Its time to restore Justice in this nation, before we are all subjects, not citizens. If you are tired of this Injustice then help me do something about this. By the way, I'm 84 and I'm going to live long enough to Restore not Change America. I'm here to protect our bill of rights, and stop this nonsense about pot and other drugs. Our own CIA imported tons of cocaine into our nation at their secret airport north of Mena, Ark., and then gloat over the money they confiscate from citizens without even a conviction for any crime. Are you NEXT? I live in So. Calif. and I'm in perfect health. I have never used any drugs, nor did I ever smoke. I'm no NO medications. So lets rise up and retake control of OUR nation.


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