Carl Campanile April 21, 2017
In a startling rebuff, the New York State Parole Board denied the release of ex-Weather Underground radical Judith Clark from prison after Gov. Cuomo commuted her sentence.
Clark, 67 was convicted for her role as the get-a-way driver in the infamous 1981 Brinks robbery in which two Nyack police officers and a security guard were killed.
The three victims whose lives were snuffed out were Officers Edward O’Grady and Waverly Brown and security guard/driver Peter Paige.
Clark became eligible for parole after Cuomo, in an extraordinary decision, commuted her 75-year-to-life sentence last December — giving her the right to make her case to the Parole Board.
Without his intervention, she would not have been eligible for parole until 2056 and would likely have died behind bars.
But in a unanimous decision, the three-member parole board member concluded that the severity of Clark’s crime’s outweighed her good behavior and deeds in prison and calls for her release.
“We do find that your release at this time is incompatible with the welfare of society . . . .You are still a symbol of violent and terroristic rime,” parole board members Tina Stanford, Kevin Ludlow and Sally ThompsoIn its decision.
They also noted that Clark had a criminal record of aggravated battery, aiding escape, mob action and resisting arrest prior to her New York crimes. And she was unrepentant at her sentencing, referring to herself as “at war with America.”
The parole board members, part of an independent body, were appointed by three different governors.
Her next parole board date for potential release is in two years, April of 2019.
Harriet Clark, the daughter of the inmate, was crestfallen.
“I understand and agree that my mother’s punishment must honor the seriousness of her crime but I believe that 35 years in prison is a serious punishment,” Harriet Clark said.
“My mother did not kill anyone and it’s hard for me to understand who is served by making her die in prison, which is what decisions like this eventually amount to. The Parole Board sent a discouraging message today to people on the inside and their families on the outside so I want to send a different message and say how proud I am of the men and women I know inside who work so hard to transform their lives and who, like my mother, deserve to come home to their families.”
Clark’s lawyer, Steve Zeidman, said the decision “ignores” Clark’s “extraordinary record of achievement and transformation and instead elevates calls for interminable punishment.”
Allen Roskoff, a friend of Clark who headed the group “Candles for Clemency” and campaigned for her release, said, “ We’re heart broken. We’re devastated. The Parole Board is broken.”
But families of the victims were thrilled that Clark will remain behind bars.
“I want her to stay there for the rest of her life,” said Josephine Paige, the widow of Peter Paige.
“My husband is in the ground and she’s going to get out? She doesn’t deserve it.”
Cuomo, for his part, did not second-guess the Parole Board’.
“Judith Clark deserved the opportunity to make her case for parole based on her extensive prison programming, her perfect disciplinary record while incarcerated, and impressive self-development over the past 35 years. The commutation afforded her that opportunity and we respect the parole board’s decision.,” said Cuomo spokeswoman Dani Lever.
Parole board members grilled Clark during a hearing on April 6 at the Bedford Hills Correction facility, where she has been incarcerated following her Oct. 14, 1983 conviction for murder in the second degree and robbery in the first degree.
As her Parole Board hearing approached, opponents dropped off petitions signed by 10,000 people — including many in law enforcement — saying Clark should be kept behind bars.
Meanwhile nine members of New York’s congressional delegation — Adriano Espaillat, Hakeem Jeffries, Carolyn Maloney, Greg Meeks, Grace Meng, Jerrold Nadler, Jose Serrano, Nydia Velazquez and Tom Suozzi co-signed a letter to the Parole Board urging her release.