Inmate's children feel brunt of penalty

BY GINNIE GRAHAM Published: February 20, 2011
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Koby has become the caregiver for his sisters on occasion as his grandmother serves as their guardian. The girls' father helps, but an illness prevents him from caring full-time for the children, Spottedcrow said.

“It's hard, and I have to have Koby help me,” said Starr, 50. “The people in the community have been real helpful. We would not have had Christmas without the donations. I couldn't do it without the help of the Lord. We pray every day.”

Starr earns minimum wage working at a gas station and receives food stamps and child care subsidies. She is paying off her nearly $8,600 in court fines at $50 a month. She lives in a rural area and cannot drive because her license was suspended after her conviction. She gets rides from neighbors and friends.

The girls call her “mama” once in a while, and Starr corrects them. “These little girls don't understand why … or how long she's going to be gone.”

Starr said the 1-year-old had an especially hard time. “She woke up … yelling ‘Mama, mama, mama,' and we'd just cry. We'd cry together. They are missing a lot without her here.”

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