In a startling rebuff, the New York State Parole Board rejected Gov. Cuomo’s request to release ex-Weather Underground radical Judith Clark from prison.
Clark, 67 was convicted for her role as the getaway driver in the infamous 1981 Brinks robbery in which two Nyack police officers and a security guard were killed.
Clark became eligible for parole after Cuomo, in an extraordinary decision, commuted her 75-year-to-life sentence last December.
Without his intervention, she would not have been eligible for parole until 2056 and would likely have died behind bars.
“She didn’t get it. We’re heart broken. We’re devastated,” said Allen Roskoff, a family friend of Clark who helped spearhead a campaign for her clemency and release.
“The Parole Board is broken.”
Parole board members grilled Clark during two hearings on April 5-6 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.
Cuomo’s decision to commute Clark’s decision and give her a chance at freedom after 35 years in the slammer drew both support and outrage.
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.
Family members of the victims were stunned to hear that Cuomo visited Clark in prison last year but did not bother to consult them.
The three people killed in the robbery were Officers Edward O’Grady and Waverl Brown and security guard/driver Peter Paige.
But supporters of Clark said she has served a lengthy sentence and is rehabilitated person who poses no danger to the public.
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.
Members of the Parole Board are appointed by the governor.
At the time of her sentencing, the judge said Clark was incorrigible and unrepentant.
During court hearings, she referred to herself as a “freedom fighter” and mocked court officers as “fascist dogs.”
“Revolutionary violence is necessary, and it is a liberating force,” Clark told the jury.
But Cuomo and other supporters said she had become a model prisoner and remorseful.
Cuomo defended his decision, while speaking at the funeral last month of newspaper columnist and author Jimmy Brestlin, who along with his wife, Ronnie, supported Clark’s bid for clemency.
“It was clear that she committed a terrible crime, but, after visiting her, it was also clear to me that she was a different person. It was a hard political decision,” Cuomo said.
“I could hear Jimmy’s voice saying, ‘She made a mistake. We all make mistakes. She learned. She paid the price. She spent her entire life in a cage and now she is different. Jesus would pardon her. Who the hell made you better than Jesus?’” Cuomo said. “And he would have been right.”
Clark earned college degrees while incarcerated and taught prenatal parenting courses in the nursery program, founded HIV/AIDS education program, trained service dogs in the Puppies Behind Bars program, and serving as a tutor.