Monday, February 21, 2011

Inmate’s children feel brunt of penalty

KINGFISHER — Holding back tears, 9-year-old Koby whispers words like “mad” and “sad” when talking about his imprisoned mother.
His mom, Patricia Spottedcrow, 25, is serving 10 years for $31 in marijuana sales to a police informant. Her mother, Delita Starr, is free on a 30-year suspended sentence.

Grandmother Delita Starr holds Ja’zalynn Rex, 1, as Koby LeBlanc, center, 9, and Ja’alizah Rex, 3, exit a special transit van at the family’s home in Kingfisher. PHOTO BY ADAM WISNESKI, Tulsa World

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Inmate’s children feel brunt of penalty
Koby was in his grandmother’s home during one of the transactions, helping make change with dollar bills from his “Christmas jar,” records state. He remembers the police raid.
“It was scary because I was asleep and there was a guy standing in the room,” he said. “They pointed guns everywhere. I went to the room with my mama and sisters. After that, I had to go to school.”
Koby was born when his mother was a teenager. He has three sisters, ages 1 to 4, from his mother’s eight-year relationship with a common-law husband.
It was a surprise when the judge ordered his mom imprisoned and she didn’t return home one day while he was in school, he said.
“It was real sudden. My grandma told me. It was sad. My mama called me the next day … she was crying, and so was I.”
Koby is already thinking about a party and having time with his mom when she returns home.
He sheds a tear remembering what he misses most. “I used to go in her room and get to lay down with her,” he said, pausing. “I can’t see her no more.”
Koby has become the caregiver for his sisters on occasion as his grandmother serves as their guardian. The girls’ father helps, but an illness prevents him from caring full-time for the children, Spottedcrow said.
“It’s hard, and I have to have Koby help me,” said Starr, 50. “The people in the community have been real helpful. We would not have had Christmas without the donations. I couldn’t do it without the help of the Lord. We pray every day.”
Starr earns minimum wage working at a gas station and receives food stamps and child care subsidies. She is paying off her nearly $8,600 in court fines at $50 a month. She lives in a rural area and cannot drive because her license was suspended after her conviction. She gets rides from neighbors and friends.
The girls call her “mama” once in a while, and Starr corrects them. “These little girls don’t understand why … or how long she’s going to be gone.”
Starr said the 1-year-old had an especially hard time. “She woke up … yelling ‘Mama, mama, mama,’ and we’d just cry. We’d cry together. They are missing a lot without her here.”






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