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Oklahoma County prosecutor again questions parole board's actions

Oklahoma County district attorney questions how the state parole board changed the parole status of inmate Patricia Spottedcrow and others.
by Nolan Clay and Randy Ellis Published: August 30, 2012
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An inmate in a high-profile case spent much of Tuesday on a prison bus, as officers drove her from Oklahoma City to Taft and then back, because of confusion over her parole status.

The inmate, Patricia Spottedcrow, is a young mother whose 12-year prison term for a $31 marijuana deal attracted national attention and calls for sentencing reforms.

“It was a big mess,” her attorney, Laura Deskin, said of the confusion. “She was really scared. She didn't know what was going on.”

A judge last year reduced Spottedcrow's term to eight years and the Pardon and Parole Board in April recommended she be paroled. The governor agreed but required her to spend 120 days in a work-release program at a community corrections facility first.

Her parole status became confused after Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater complained the Pardon and Parole Board violated the Open Meeting Act when it first considered her and 49 other inmates.

Prater accused the board of failing to properly notify the public what inmates the board was considering at a stage of its meetings known as docket modifications. The prosecutor has not filed criminal charges.

Spottedcrow, 27, was transferred July 24 from the Eddie Warrior Correctional Center in Taft to the Hillside Community Correctional Center in Oklahoma City to complete the governor's stipulation, Corrections Department spokesman Jerry Massie said.

Over the weekend, she was held in a segregated detention area at the community center after corrections officials decided to move her back to the minimum-security facility in Taft. Officials acted after learning her status had been changed to parole recommendation withdrawn.

“Sometimes they don't want to go back to higher security, and they might run off,” Massie said of her being held in detention.

Her attorney said, “She was ... in a room, in isolation, and she was being fed through a little slot there like somebody who had gotten in trouble. ... We still don't know exactly how this happened but ... somehow the Pardon and Parole Board changed her status. ... Somebody's sitting on a computer somewhere doing something and they're affecting people's lives.”

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by Nolan Clay
Sr. Reporter
Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,...
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by Randy Ellis
Investigative Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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