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Oklahoma woman serving 12 years for pot case released from prison

OKLAHOMA CITY — Patricia Spottedcrow once faced 12 years in prison, but on the morning she was released on parole, it took less than 20 minutes to walk free.

Spottedcrow had to call a friend to pick her up from Hillside Community Corrections Center in Oklahoma City, her mother hadn’t even arrived from Kingfisher yet when corrections guards asked Spottedcrow to leave the prison’s grounds.

Her friend drove her to a nearby pharmacy parking lot, so she could reunite with her mother, Delita Starr, and her attorney, Laura Deskin.

“Oh, man, this is wonderful!,” Spottedcrow said. “I’m so excited I can’t take it!”

She was released Thursday morning after completing the community corrections-level portion of her sentence required by Gov. Mary Fallin as a condition of her parole. She entered prison Dec. 22, 2010.

Spottedcrow’s 12-year prison sentence for selling $31 worth of marijuana garnered widespread attention after her story was featured in a 2011 Tulsa World series on women in prison.

She was originally handed a 12-year sentence in a blind plea before a judge for selling a “dime bag” of marijuana to a police informant. It was a first-time offense, but because children were in Spottedcrow’s home when she was arrested, a charge was added for possession of a dangerous substance in the presence of a minor.

Gov. Fallin agreed in July to approve parole for Spottedcrow upon the unanimous recommendation of the Pardon and Parole Board.

Corrections officials had told Spottedcrow her release date would be sometime near Dec. 15, but she was told this week it would be even a little earlier than planned.

Starr wiped away tears as she hugged her daughter in the drugstore parking lot.

“It’s been a long time coming,” she said.

Spottedcrow’s reunion with her four children - now ages 11, 6, 5 and 3 - would have to wait a few hours, until the school bus arrived back in Kingfisher. The children were in school and daycare and Starr didn’t want to ruin their perfect attendance records, she said.

The women hugged and thanked all the people who had prayed, written letters and offered support to the family since Spottedcrow began serving her prison sentence in 2010.

“We’ve got a new road and we’ve got to travel it together,” Starr said.

Deskin, Spottedcrow’s attorney, said she first heard about her client’s case through the Tulsa World article and local activists, and was “absolutely shocked” at what had happened in Oklahoma’s legal system.

Now, they plan to focus on the possibility of post-conviction relief for Spottedcrow and possibly modifying the 30-year suspended sentence Starr received for her role in the crime, Deskin said.

[Source: Tulsa World]

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