Judith Clark, the former Weather Underground member who served nearly four decades in prison for her role in the deadly 1981 robbery of an armored truck in New York, was granted parole on Wednesday.
The $1.6 million Brink's heist in suburban Nanuet, N.Y., led to the shooting deaths of Brink's guard Peter Paige and Nyack police officers Edward O'Grady and Waverly Brown. Clark, now 69, was initially sentenced to 75 years to life behind bars for serving as the getaway driver, but New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo commuted her sentence in 2016, making her eligible for parole.
Cuomo praised Clark's behavior as an inmate when he commuted her sentence. She has trained service dogs, founded an AIDS education program and counseled mothers in prison.
However, New York's parole board denied Clark's initial request for release in 2017, saying she was "still a symbol of violent terroristic crime."
Clark, 69, presented statements of support from more than 2,000 people at her parole hearing on April 3. Among those supporting her were former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, 11 members of New York's congressional delegation and Elaine Lord, a former superintendent of Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, where Clark is incarcerated. A letter signed by more than 70 elected officials said the correctional system exists for rehabilitation as well as punishment.
Still, the families of the victims and some law enforcement officials opposed her release. The Rockland County District Attorney's Office said granting Clark parole "would be an atrocious travesty of justice and an affront to our criminal justice system."
"I look at the world differently now," Clark said in her letter asking Cuomo for clemency. "Instead of abstract slogans, I see and am moved by flesh-and-blood people."
Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said despite being the getaway driver and not at the scene of the robbery and shooting, Clark was sentenced to die in prison. "Since being incarcerated, she has expressed deep remorse for her role and used every opportunity to better herself and those around her."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.