As reported in the Tulsa World News,
One year ago, on the week of Christmas, the first-time offender was checked into the Eddie Warrior women’s prison – the first holiday away from her four young children.
“I cried and cried just thinking of my kids opening presents on Christmas and I wasn’t there,” she said. “This year, it’s going to be any other day. I try not to keep up with days in here.”
At her mother’s home in Kingfisher, there is a somber tone among her children – ages 2, 4, 5 and 10. . .
“The first eight months were a blur,” Spottedcrow said. “I just cried a lot. It’s like I woke up a couple of months ago.”
Her daily schedule starts with breakfast at 5:30 a.m., followed by her job in the laundry. At 4:30 p.m., she is released and goes to the gym, followed by dinner and then church at 7 p.m.
“You have to try and keep your mind busy,” she said. “It’s easy to get sad, depressed and stuck in your own head in here.”
Prison is no picnic, even at a minimum-security campus like Eddie Warrior, she said.
“I took for granted using the bathroom by myself, what clothes you can wear and being able to pick up and go to the store when you want,” Spottedcrow said. “I hate not being able to use your own shampoo and you are limited to spending $10 a month (in the commissary).”
But it’s her kids taking up most of her thoughts.
“I was there every day taking of care of them before this,” she said. “I did everything from going to football games and PTA.”
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 a waiting list to begin higher education and Career Tech classes.
“The life I was living before, that’s over,” Spottedcrow said. “I’m not playing with my life anymore. I would never chance this again for my children.”
Spottedcrow never denied she smoked pot but said she was never a drug dealer or ever used or sold marijuana in front of her children.
“I got myself in this situation, and I’m not saying I shouldn’t be punished,” she said. “But I think this is a little excessive, especially looking at other cases from my county. And I’m sleeping next to people who have killed people, and they have less time than me. There are days I really can’t believe I’m in prison.”
In prison, she has had three misconducts: one for bartering when she gave an inmate cigarettes, one for having contraband when cookies were found in her locker without a receipt and another for aiding and abetting when she did not tell authorities a woman put bleach in the laundry area.
“I have a big heart,” she said. “When I see someone in need, like for food, I want to help if I can. But you can get a misconduct in here for the littlest things.”
In her classes, she has reflected on her life and changes that need to be made, including in her love life.
When she entered prison, she was still in a relationship with her common-law husband, who is the father of three of her children. Now, that relationship is essentially over, and he has not been supporting or caring for the children either, she said.
“The reality is – out of sight, out of mind,” she said. “We were kids having kids. I’m taking it day by day right now. But when I get out of here, I’m only worrying about me and my kids. They are my first concern.”
And there may be some concerns to work through with her children.
At the Kingfisher home, it’s been a tough existence and one that is relying on the generosity and help of others.
Spottedcrow’s oldest child has been acting out since her incarceration.
“He’s in trouble for stealing, and his mouth is real swift and sharp,” Starr said. “He blames me a lot for what happened to his mother. The girls want to cry a lot. They don’t like to listen to me, saying, ‘You’re not my mother.’ We struggle every day.”
Financially, the situation has been devastating at times.
Starr earns $8 an hour at a truck stop and doesn’t have a driver’s license because of a conviction. Spottedcrow’s oldest child pitches in with a few dollars from odd jobs he does at their church.
Starr’s utility and food costs have shot up since she took in the four children, and she owes $8,000 in court fines. As part of her sentence, she must take two drug tests a year, costing $150 each.
“But there are other little things, like I couldn’t buy their school pictures this year,” Starr said. “At school, kids can buy popcorn for $1 on Fridays, and sometimes mine are the only ones not getting popcorn.”