ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A New York judge has ordered a new parole hearing for a former radical anti-Vietnam War activist who drove a getaway car in a bungled 1981 Brinks heist that left three people dead.
State Supreme Court Justice John Kelley ruled Thursday that the state parole board must hold a new hearing within 60 days for 68-year-old Judith Clark. She has served more than 36 years of a 75 years-to-life sentence for the suburban New York robbery that led to the deaths of two police officers and a security guard.
The board denied Clark parole a year ago. Kelley said the board improperly focused on the severity of the crime rather than considering who Clark is today. He said the board also failed to explain why numerous letters of support from those who personally know Clark were outweighed by opposition letters from law enforcement and the community.
“New York law is clear that if a prisoner is found to be rehabilitated and presents no threat to society, she should be granted parole,” Clark’s attorneys, Michael Cardozo and Steven Zeidman, said in a statement Friday.
Clark is an ex-member of Weather Underground, a 1960s group of increasingly violent anti-war activists. In a 2002 sworn statement, Clark expressed regret and said she had rejected her radical beliefs
Gov. Andrew Cuomo praised Clark’s behavior as a prisoner when he commuted her sentence in 2016 to make her eligible for parole. The Democratic governor noted that Clark “received one of the longest sentences of her six co-defendants, the majority of whom are either deceased or no longer in custody” and “received the same sentence as one of the known shooters.”
Cuomo’s office also said Clark has been a model prisoner, tutoring other inmates, training service dogs and founding an HIV and AIDS education program while behind bars.