Judith Clark, who entered prison as a left-wing revolutionary defiantly refusing to participate in her own murder trial, walked free on Friday as a 69-year-old woman acclaimed for her work behind bars with service dogs, AIDS patients and inmates with babies.
Clark made her initial report to her parole officer after leaving prison, state corrections spokesman Thomas Mailey said.
Clark will live in Manhattan. She will “be closely supervised to ensure her full compliance with all of the conditions of her parole,” Mailey said.
Clark, sentenced to 75-years-to-life for her role as getaway driver in a deadly 1981 Brink’s heist in suburban New York, became eligible for parole after Gov. Andrew Cuomo granted her clemency in 2016. The Democrat praised her as a model prisoner. Supporters said she embodied the prison system’s ideals as an institution of rehabilitation rather than retribution.
But some law enforcement officials, politicians and families of victims opposed her release. The $1.6 million armored truck robbery led to the shooting deaths of Brink’s guard Peter Paige and Nyack police officers Edward O’Grady and Waverly Brown.
In a 2-1 decision on April 17 granting her release, the parole board noted that Clark’s original life sentence was ordered in part because of her “unrepentant behavior and refusal of counsel.” The board said she had since disavowed her anarchist political views and apologized to the community and her victims.
The board listed Clark’s numerous achievements in prison, including earning a master’s degree, training service dogs for veterans and law enforcement, founding an AIDS education program, securing a college program for inmates and working in a prison nursery mentoring new mothers.
The dissenting board member cited the violence of the crime, the impact on the families of the slain officers and guard and Clark’s involvement in the revolutionary May 19th Communist Organization that was founded by members of the Weather Underground and Black Liberation Army in the late 70s. In addition to the Brink’s robbery, May 19th committed a series of bombings at government and military buildings.
Her lawyers said Clark will live with a friend in New York City and work for Hour Children, an organization that helps incarcerated women and their children rejoin the community.