Patricia Spottedcrow sold $31 in marijuana to an informant and received 12 years in prison.
She was one of women profiled in the series that investigated why Oklahoma is ranked No. 1 in the nation in the number of women in prison.
The state incarcerates 134 women per 100,000 residents, compared to the national average of 69 per 100,000, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. While the number of women entering Oklahoma’s prisons each year has remained somewhat stable in recent years – 1,284 in 2009 – the number of women in the system has grown to a high for the decade as tougher sentencing laws have passed.
The cost to taxpayers is high, up to $43 per inmate per day at one facility. Meanwhile, experts say the children of female prisoners are at risk to continue the cycle.
In 2011, the Tulsa World partnered with Oklahoma Watch — an independent, non-profit investigative reporting team — to explore the issue of female incarceration.