01:36 - Source: CNN
Judy Clark granted parole after nearly 40 years
CNN —  

Judy Clark, a former radical activist who spent nearly 40 years in jail for her role in a 1981 robbery of a Brink’s armored truck in suburban New York, was released from prison Friday, a corrections official said.

Now 69, Clark was convicted of murder in the Nyack, New York, robbery that left security guard Peter Paige and Nyack police officers Edward O’Grady and Waverly Brown dead. She was granted parole last month.

“While this is a wonderful day for Judy Clark and her family, she recognizes that news of her release may cause upset to the victims’ families and wants to express her ongoing concern for these communities,” Clark’s family said in a statement. “She plans to live her life outside, as she did inside, in atonement for the harm she caused.”

Clark participated in the 1981 robbery with other activists, and described herself as a “single-minded fanatic … at war with America” and “a blinded revolutionary,” according to New York State Department of Corrections records.

Prosecutors have criticized the parole board’s April decision, describing Clark as a “cold-blooded cop killer” who chose to participate in “bank robbery, anarchy and murder.”

“Because of her complete disregard for human life and the sheer brutality of the crime, parole should never have been granted for this convicted murderer,” Kevin Gilleece, acting Rockland County district attorney, said last month in a statement.

Clark was initially sentenced to 75 years to life in prison but New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo commuted her sentence in 2016, opening the possibility for her to be paroled.

“She talked about her sorrow, her complicity and why she did it,” Cuomo told reporters after personally interviewing Clark more than two years ago. “I found it very impressive overall.”

Cuomo’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.

In its decision last month, the parole board said its action doesn’t forgive Clark for her role in the robbery, according to a copy of the ruling shared with CNN by a source with the state’s department of corrections with firsthand knowledge of the board’s decision.

“You were wrong. Your behavior was criminal. Your callous disregard for the wellbeing of some, in favor of others, is a disgrace,” the decision reads.

The ruling states there was “ample evidence of rehabilitation, remorse and transformation” in Clark’s case and said her release would be “compatible with the welfare of the overall community.”

The documents indicate that Clark’s advanced age, the 38 years she has served in jail, her good institutional record and the numerous actions she has taken through the years played a factor in the decision.

While in prison Clark, who also is known as Judith, has trained service dogs used by law enforcement, taught prenatal care, created an AIDS counseling program and also became a chaplain.

One member of the three-member panel dissented, saying Clark’s release would “deprecate the seriousness of the offenses and undermine respect for the law.”

Clark met with her her parole officer Friday, corrections department spokesman Thomas Mailey said.

“She will reside in New York County and be closely supervised to ensure her full compliance with all of the conditions of her parole,” he added.