How $31 of pot gave mom a 10-year-prison sentence

TAFT — Because of $31 in marijuana sales, Patricia Marilyn Spottedcrow is now serving 10 years in prison, has been taken away from her four young children and husband, and has ended her work in nursing homes. This is part of Oklahoma Watch, an independent and investigative reporting project.
BY GINNIE GRAHAM - Tulsa World Modified: February 20, 2011 at 12:00 am •  Published: February 20, 2011

“It does not appear the defendant is aware that a problem exists or that she needs to make changes in her current behavior.”

Spottedcrow was unemployed and without a stable residence when arrested, the report states. The family lost their Oklahoma City home for not paying bills.

“When she needed money … this is the avenue she chose rather than finding legitimate employment,” the report states. “The defendant does not appear remorseful … and she makes justifications for her actions.”

‘Kids are involved'

Pritchett said on first drug offenses, sentences are usually suspended and may require treatment or random drug tests.

Only if there are other more serious circumstances is a first-time drug offender sent to prison, she said.

“When kids are involved, it's different,” Pritchett said.

“This was a drug sale. When I look at someone in front of me, I'm thinking, ‘What is it going to take to rehabilitate this person?' We look at their attitude and other factors.”

When Spottedcrow was taken to jail after her sentencing, she had marijuana in her jacket. She pleaded guilty to that additional charge Jan. 24 and was sentenced to two years in prison and fined nearly $1,300. That sentence also will run concurrent with her other conviction.

Spottedcrow has four children — ages 9, 4, 3 and 1 — and is determined to keep her 8-year, common-law marriage intact. “It's been really hard on my husband,” she said. “I know a lot of things can happen, but he'll always have my back and be there.”

Her son is aware of what has happened, but the girls have been told their mother is away at college.

“I missed my daughter's fourth birthday, and I'll miss her fifth one too. My other daughter just started talking, and I'm not there to hear her,” Spottedcrow said.

“My baby woke up … and doesn't know where her mommy is. This is the hardest thing to do, and know I can't do anything about it. I just have to focus on myself and take it day-to-day and plan for going home. I will want to see my kids at some point. I'm trying to take this slow. I can't get depressed about it.”

Oklahoma's two prisons for women — the maximum-security Mabel Bassett in McLoud and minimum-security Eddie Warrior in Taft — housed 2,622 prisoners last year.

Of those, 48 percent are serving time for nonviolent drug offenses and 22 percent for other nonviolent offenses such as embezzlement and forgery.

Of the 1,393 women received by Oklahoma prisons last year, 78 percent were identified by DOC as minimal public safety threats.

Most nonviolent offenders are housed at Eddie Warrior, an open campus with a walking track and six dormitories.

‘I'm already changed'

Spottedcrow knows she will need to find a new job skill because her work in the health field won't be there because of her incarceration. She would like to open a boutique.

“Even though this seems like the worst thing … I've been blessed along the way,” she said. “It could have been worse. I'm happy my kids are safe and, ultimately, I'm safe. I'm thankful I still have a family.”

In a year, Spottedcrow will have a review and hopes to shorten her time in prison.

“I'm already changed,” she said. “This is a real eye-opener. I'm going to get out of here, be with my kids and live my life.”


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