OK Woman Sentenced to 12 years for $31 Marijuana to Get Early Parole Hearing

Good news for Patricia Spottedcrow of Oklahama, whose travails I described here. The Oklahoma Board of Pardons and Paroles has agreed to early consideration of her parole, possibly in April.

Patricia pleaded guilty and received a 12 year sentence for selling $20 of marijuana to a police informant at the home she shared with her mother and possession of marijuana in the presence of a child. The severity of her sentence caused her case to receive national media attention. Spottedcrow, age 25, has four children, no prior convictions, was broke and had recently lost her home. cently lost her home. The two children present in the home, one of whom was a 10 month old infant, did not witness the transaction according to Patricia. [More...]

Her mother had sold $10 of marijuana to the informant at the home a few weeks earlier. Patricia was not charged with that offense. The informant only had a $20 bill, and her mother asked one of the grandsons, age 8, for change. She received a 30 year suspended sentence.

When Spottedcrow was booked at the jail following her sentencing, she had a small amount of marijuana in her jacket. She later pleaded guilty to that and got another two years, but it was ordered concurrent with the 12 year sentence.

On reconsideration, the Judge modified her sentence to 8 years in prison and 4 on probation because she had gotten her GED in prison and otherwise done well there. She then applied for early consideration of parole.

This week, thanks to a parole board member who read her pleading and recommended her for consideration, the board unanimously agreed to consider her application.

After her story was published in the Tulsa World, a groundswell of support grew. 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.

Spottedcrow and her mother had initially been offered a two year sentence. They turned it down and pleaded guilty without any sentencing concessions, gambling the judge would be more lenient. Spottedcrow says her lawyer assured her the judge would not impose more than 2 years since the amount was so small. She also says her lawyer said if she pleaded guilty, her mother would not go to jail.

Some more details: After being sentenced to 12 years, she called her attorney to ask about an appeal or grounds to withdraw her plea, but he didn't return her call. He has since been convicted of two felonies, perjury by subornation and allowing the introduction of a false exhibit as evidence in an unrelated case. His license is suspended while he appeals his convictions.

She now has a post-conviction motion pending, alleging the sentence was cruel and excessive, and that her attorney provided ineffective assistance of counsel. It lays out the facts of her charges and sentences, and differs slightly from news reports. For example, it makes clear her sentences were 12 years and 2 years concurrent, and were not reduced to 8 years but modified to requiring only 8 of the 12 years be served in prison. And that she only engaged in one sale at her home (it was her mother who handled the first transaction.) She and her mother were represented by the same attorney, raising issues of conflict of interest. It also explains the "blind plea" and her grounds for alleging her lawyer improperly advised her.

The plea hearing was also unusual. When she entered the plea, the documents mistakenly said the penalty was 0 to 2 years on the sale charge rather than 2 to life. That's what the judge advised her. The same thing happened at her mother's plea hearing. Later that day, the judge realized the mistake and called them back into court to advise them correctly. Patricia re-entered her plea acknowledging the sentence could be 2 to life and there were no concessions. (At her mother's retaking of the plea, the lawyer acknowledged making the mistake, saying he was thinking of what the state was going to be asking for.) At Patricia's sentencing, the prosecutor asked for 15 years.

Whether it was $20 or $31 of marijuana. and one or two sales, 8 years in prison is clearly excessive, regardless of the presence of children in the home.

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  • Display: Sort:
    how many of OK's jails are privately operated? (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by cpinva on Fri Feb 17, 2012 at 02:32:49 AM EST
    i ask because a 12 year sentence would be a guaranteed occupied cell, and guaranteed 12 year's of profit on that cell. much like the hotel industry, privately operated prisons rely for their profits on booked cells. the higher the sentence, the more profits are guaranteed.

    of course, whether public or private, the taxpayer ultimately foots the bill.

    OK only has 2 women's prisons (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Feb 17, 2012 at 12:43:40 PM EST
    Spottedcrow is at the Eddie Warrior Facility.

    There are 5 private prisons in OK. $43 a day is the cost per inmate.

    OK incarcerates more women than any other state.


    not prosecutors fault (none / 0) (#1)
    by diogenes on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 10:16:52 PM EST
    "Spottedcrow and her mother had initially been offered a two year sentence. They turned it down and pleaded guilty without any sentencing concessions, gambling the judge would be more lenient. Spottedcrow says her lawyer assured her the judge would not impose more than 2 years since the amount was so small. She also says her lawyer said if she pleaded guilty, her mother would not go to jail."
    A combination of Spottedcrow's failed gamble and defense attorney malpractice.

    Should not have been any chance for jail. (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by MKS on Fri Feb 17, 2012 at 12:30:40 PM EST
    Should not have been a crime.

    so change the law (none / 0) (#18)
    by diogenes on Fri Feb 17, 2012 at 10:55:50 PM EST
    So change the law to make the sale of marijuana legal.  If it's so important, then maybe support Ron Paul, who is the only presidential candidate who agrees with you.

    In the words of Cool Hand Luke: (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by jondee on Sat Feb 18, 2012 at 11:34:16 AM EST
    "Callin' it your job don't make it right."

    Can't support a bigot and a racist (none / 0) (#19)
    by MKS on Sat Feb 18, 2012 at 11:21:53 AM EST
    What's more racist? (none / 0) (#24)
    by kdog on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 11:17:05 AM EST
    Some twenty year old newsletters with offensive content or the origins of the drug war and it's implementation ever since, supported by the current president and congress?

    In a nation where home brewing your beer... (none / 0) (#2)
    by Dadler on Fri Feb 17, 2012 at 01:07:58 AM EST
    ...or making your own win is considered cool and legal and culinary and okey dokey American (alcohol equals biggest killer drug of them all), the imprisonment of anyone for narcotics is sickening hypocrisy of the most subconsciously puritanical sort.  The Pilgrims loved their beer, it was part of the reason they came ashore at Plymouth Rock -- they'd run out of fresh water with which to make their home brew. Too bad they didn't spleef, although they may have grown some hemp for other uses, like George Washington did.  Richest man in America when he became "first" prez of the U.S.  Sigh...

    Not to Nitpick (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Feb 17, 2012 at 09:25:07 AM EST
    Weed is not a narcotic, narcotics contain opiates, morphine, heroin, and so on.

    So at 8 years @ 25k/yr to house an inmate, the state is ready to spend $200k for $20 of weed, and then they complain that us liberals are increasing government and giving away hand-outs to the poor.

    I am so sick of unlimited dollars to crush anyone who doesn't tow the government line and zero dollars left over to help people from going hungry or homeless.  Which in this case, a couple of bucks for food may have prevented the entire debacle, and saved the state a lot of treasure and embarrassment.

    This case is the poster child for conservative idiocy.


    Not to nitpick... (none / 0) (#6)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 17, 2012 at 09:29:56 AM EST
    Liberals share this brand of cruel tyrannical wasteful idiocy...or at least what passes as a liberal party 'round here, the Democrats.

    No (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Feb 17, 2012 at 10:03:14 AM EST
    Liberals are, for the most part, down with decriminalization and helping the poor.

    I think you are confusing liberal, which is what most of the people on this site are, with the Democratic Party.

    I am a liberal, and I hate the Democratic Party, because of exactly what you mentioned, the country seems to be under the impression they are liberal, when in fact they are anything but.


    And.. (none / 0) (#8)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Feb 17, 2012 at 10:05:30 AM EST
    ...even the Democratic Party is not down with 8 years for a couple grams of weed.  That is pure conservative zero tolerance garbage.

    I hear ya... (none / 0) (#9)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 17, 2012 at 10:21:31 AM EST
    thats why I added that "what passes for a liberal party" bit.

    But there are lots of people who call themselves liberals who are down with prohibition and drug war...the nanny-state and benevolent tyrant types.  It's part of the reason a guy like Ron Paul is finding support from liberal people with nowhere else to turn on this issue.  We're that f8ckin' desperate for even a small dose of sanity.  


    Ditto on Paul (none / 0) (#13)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Feb 17, 2012 at 01:01:13 PM EST
    All the stuff he hates and I hate, as president he could really effect, the wars, all of them including drugs.  He can't legalize anything, but he could pull the republican go to, and defund it so severely, it will never be the force it is today.  And of course appoint DEA people to, at least, get some drugs down-classed.

    And the other stuff, his truly crazy stuff, would never get out of Congress.

    ...But that ain't gonna change Oklahoma.


    Ron Paul is not opposed to drug laws. He (5.00 / 0) (#17)
    by caseyOR on Fri Feb 17, 2012 at 04:53:36 PM EST
    is opposed to federal drug laws. He has been very clear that he thinks the states are the appropriate place to pass laws that regulate behavior.

    So, while maybe, if elected, Paul would defund the DEA, there is no reason to think he would not just send money along to the states so that they could persecute and prosecute drug users.

    Paul is not so much anti-government regulation as he is anti-federal government regulation.

    And don't get me started on Ron Paul's misogynistic views. Women would not fair well in a Ron Paul administration.


    No hope for Oklahoma;) (none / 0) (#14)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 17, 2012 at 01:04:53 PM EST
    Though if the federal kickbacks used to fund their state-level drug war were severely reduced, they'd have less money to fund their brand of dirty.

    "the Democratic Party is not down with?" (none / 0) (#21)
    by Mr Natural on Sat Feb 18, 2012 at 11:48:57 PM EST
    Your assertion is not supported by the facts.

    It was Charlie Rangel, Democrat, who chaired the House Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control which jammed outrageous crack penalties down a relatively diffident Ronald Reagan's throat with the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act.


    I Specifically Writing About it's... (none / 0) (#23)
    by ScottW714 on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 09:39:27 AM EST
    ... Great Leader, who has done nothing but crack down and increased funding on enforcement, which is actually defaulting on a his campaign rhetoric, circa 2008.

    thanks for the clarification (none / 0) (#15)
    by Dadler on Fri Feb 17, 2012 at 01:26:29 PM EST
    narcotics and other recreational botanicals, i should have said.

    "making your own WINE" that should read (none / 0) (#3)
    by Dadler on Fri Feb 17, 2012 at 01:08:27 AM EST

    Hey. Home Brewing Can Kill Dreams (none / 0) (#10)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Feb 17, 2012 at 11:55:16 AM EST
    Just read this and had to share:
    Sometimes when I reflect back on all the beer I drink I feel ashamed - Then I look into the glass and think about the workers in the brewery and all of their hopes and dreams. If I didn't drink this beer, they might be out of work and their dreams would be shattered. Then I say to myself, `It is better that I drink this beer and let their dreams come true than be selfish and worry about my liver'.
    -Deep Thought, Jack Handy

    Pretty sure this can be applied to any intoxicant, smugglers gotz hopes & dreams too...


    Clearly her sentance was way out of line (none / 0) (#16)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Feb 17, 2012 at 02:39:55 PM EST
    with her crime. I'm glad to see it being reduced. Presumably she's been incarcerated for over a year now, so time served would be more than enough, imo.

    All that said, she went to the courthouse for her sentencing for her MJ conviction and she did so with MJ in her friggin' pocket?!

    Words fail...

    Hanged for stealing a loaf of bread... (none / 0) (#22)
    by Mr Natural on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 01:48:01 PM EST
    Little or nothing has changed since such sentences were carried out.  Our lawgivers are the same cruel brutes, in their own way as depraved and indifferent as the worst criminal.