An Oklahoma woman who got a 12-year prison sentence for $31 of pot was jailed again — for overdue court fees

YouTube/tulsa worldPatricia Spottedcrow was sentenced to 12 years in prison over selling $US31 of marijuana. She was 25, a single mother, and a first-time offender.
  • The woman whose 12-year sentence over $US31 of marijuana drew national outrage was recently jailed again over thousands of dollars in unpaid court fees.
  • In 2011, criminal-justice reform advocates seized on Patricia Spottedcrow’s case as emblematic of overzealous drug sentencing. She was eventually released early after serving just two years.
  • But her court fees remaining from the case have swelled to over $US3,500 – and this week, strangers paid it off for her after seeing the news on social media.
  • Spottedcrow walked out of jail Wednesday afternoon and thanked those who helped her.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The woman who became the poster child for the injustice of harsh drug sentences was recently jailed again – for overdue fees.

Patricia Spottedcrow made headlines across the country in 2011 after she was sentenced to 12 years in prison for selling two baggies of marijuana worth $US31 to a police informant. She was a 25-year-old single mother of four, and a first-time offender.

Criminal-justice reform advocates seized on Spottedcrow’s case as emblematic of overzealous drug sentencing, which disproportionately affects people of colour.

Read more: Meek Mill and Michael Rubin want to get at least 1 million people out of prison and probation

The judge in the case, the late Kingfisher County Associated District Judge Susie Pritchett, also drew outrage after defending the sentence in the media.

“It was a way of life for [Spottedcrow and her family],” Pritchett told Tulsa World in 2011. “Considering these circumstances. I thought it was lenient.”

Spottedcrow says she had ‘no idea how I was going to pay this off’

Spottedcrow was eventually released early after serving just two years in prison, even winning a sign-off from Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin.

But she received a nasty surprise upon her release – thousands of dollars in court fees that by this week had swelled to $US3,569, according to the local NBC affiliate KFOR.

Spottedcrow was jailed over the weekend after Oklahoma’s Kingfisher County issued a bench warrant for the money she still owed.

“I had no idea how I was going to pay this off,” Spottedcrow told KFOR. “I knew I was going to be sitting here for a while.”

But just as before, Spottedcrow’s ordeal has drawn significant media attention. On Wednesday, strangers who caught wind of the news on social media donated to cover her entire balance, and Spottedcrow walked out of the Oklahoma County Jail that same afternoon.

“It feels wonderful. I don’t even know what to say. It feels like I hit the lotto,” she told KFOR.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.