By Steve Elliott of Toke of the Town
An Oklahoma judge has taken four years off a 12-year prison sentence for a first-time offender who sold $31 worth of marijuana to a police informant.
Associate District Judge Robert Davis decided to suspend the final four years of Patricia M. Spottedcrow’s sentence, but he just couldn’t resist a little condescension to go along with it, saying the young mother has “done better in the structure of the Department of Corrections than she had done during her adult years in the community.”
Even in reducing the draconian sentence by four years, the judge showed his arrogance and cowardice; a hearing had been scheduled for Thursday during which Spottedcrow’s lawyer would have been able to present all the evidence, but the judge evidently didn’t have the stomach to face a young mother of four doing a 12-year prison term for $31 worth of marijuana.
Spottedcrow, 26, got the stiff sentence in October 2010 after selling the marijuana to an informant in December 2009 and January 2010. Her four children were ages 9, 4, 3 and 1 at the time of her sentencing. Her mother, Delita Starr, 51, was also charged.
Both Spottedcrow and her mother pleaded guilty before a judge without knowing what their sentences would be. (Please, never enter a “blind guilty plea” like this.) The results weren’t good for them: Spottedcrow got 10 years in prison for distribution and two years for possession, and her mother got a whopping 30-year suspended sentence, for marijuana, mind you.
Neither had any previous criminal record.
The punishment does not fit the crime, said Oklahoma City attorney Josh Welch, who represents Spottedcrow, reports Ginnie Graham at Tulsa World.
“We are pleased Judge Davis recognized her sentence needed to be modified, but we are simply not pleased with the amount of time that was modified,” Welch said. “I don’t walk away from this feeling good even with four years knocked down, and I’m not going to give up until she is released.”
Welch said he is disappointed in the cancellation of a hearing to modify Spottedcrow’s sentence, which had been scheduled for Thursday. He learned of the sentence modification on Monday after receiving the order in the mail.
“The purpose of the hearing date for Patricia was to testify in court, for the judge to assess her demeanor and determine if a modification was warranted,” Welch said. “We’re shocked the court decided to rule on this by issuing an order instead of having a hearing to listen to all the evidence.”
An assistant for Judge Davis said he didn’t want to comment, claiming the ruling “should speak for itself.”
Spottedcrow’s case led to widespread revulsion at the barbarity of the sentence and resulted in a groundswell of support and national attention through online petitions, donations to help her four children and an Oklahoma City rally featuring Wayne Coyne of rock group The Flaming Lips.
A rally had been planned for outside the Kingfisher County Courthouse for the scheduled hearing on Thursday, promoted by the Society to Preserve Indigenous Rights and Indigenous Treaties (SPIRIT) and the Oklahoma NAACP.
More than 100 people had been expected at the rally, according to Brenda Golden of SPIRIT. She said the groups planned to present petitions to the judge that had been circulating for months in support of Spottedcrow’s release.
“We still feel this is very unjust and not what we wanted to happen,” Golden said. “It’s another symptom of Oklahoma sending women to prison away from their children when rehabilitation is more appropriate. Patricia made a mistake, but she needs to be home with her babies. Her children are being punished for this.”
“No other outside influences or public pressure is factored into this decision,” the judge’s order arrogantly and obnoxiously states.
Spottedcrow’s initial sentence was given by former Associate District Judge Susie “Bitch-It” Pritchett, a real cunt from hell who retired last year. Judge Pritchett claimed the sale of marijuana while children were in the home as a factor in the sentence.
The new sentence reduction order says Spottedcrow “has accomplished much while in prison.”
And this arrogant shit-heel Judge Davis actually couldn’t stop himself from adding, “Perhaps there was some wisdom in the sentencing judge’s decision to incarcerate the defendant.”
“I have a fundamental difference with the judge’s belief that (Judge Pritchett’s) initial sentence was correct or exhibited wisdom,” attorney Welch said. “I don’t believe in incarcerating people the state can help. Here you have a young mother, who had her first child at 16, and made a stupid decision. The state should have stepped in to help rather than send to to prison for a lengthy sentence.
“We incarcerate people because we sometimes think it’s better to be tough on crime and play to constituents rather than think logically about what’s best not only for the defendant but for the state of Oklahoma,” Welch said.
According to Welch, Kingfisher county has no drug court, and no community sentencing is available.
While in prison, Spottedcrow has taken parenting classes, finished her GED and participates in a grief/loss recovery program, a behavior course, Alcoholics Anonymous/Narcotics Anonymous and a “faith-based program.” She is on the waiting list for yet more education programs.
“Her new behavior should be noted, complimented and rewarded,” the judge’s order says. “However, she has only served a relatively short portion of her sentence. This court believes she needs more time to prepare and mature. Her past behavior had consequences. She is experiencing those consequences now.”
The judge’s order includes Spottedcrow’s actions at the time of her arrest, including a law enforcement report citing an informant’s information and a report stating she was apparently “not remorseful” enough to suit the arresting officers.
Welch took issue with some of those assertions. He plans to file an application for post-conviction relief on grounds of ineffective counsel.
“It’s easy for people to be hard on criminals, and sometimes that’s not the smart decision,” Welch said. “Even if all those things in the order are true, I still disagree that 12 years or eight years is appropriate. There are ways to tell a person this type of lifestyle will not be tolerated, but at the same time not perpetuate the problem by putting them in prison for a first offense.”
Spottedcrow is up for parole in 2014. Her attorney said that could be bumped to next year or could remain closer to three years away.
Article From Toke of the Town and republished with special permission.