In April 2019, over 2,000 people representing a cross-section of New Yorkers called upon the New York State Parole Board to grant parole to Judy, the second longest-serving incarcerated woman in the state.
Among the notable supporters:
- Robert Morgenthau: Former Manhattan District Attorney, former United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and longtime Chair of the Police Athletic League
- The Honorable Jonathan Lippman: Former Chief Judge of New York and current chair of the Rikers Island Commission
- Four Former New York State Parole Board Commissioners: Robert Dennison, Vernon Manley, Thomas Grant, and Barbara Treen
- Elaine Lord: Former Superintendent of Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for twenty years, where Judith Clark has been incarcerated
- Thirteen former presidents of the New York City Bar Association
- Vanda Seward: former Statewide Director of Reentry Services for the Department of Corrections
- Norma Hill: a victim of the Brinks robbery who testified against Ms. Clark at her trial
- Colleen Kelly: Founder of the Nobel Peace Prize nominated victims’ organization “September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows”
- William vanden Heuvel: Former Chair of the New York City Board of Correction and Special Assistant to then-United States Attorney Robert F. Kennedy
- Hazel Dukes: President, New York State NAACP
- Sonia Ossorio: President, New York State NOW
- 11 members of New York’s Congressional delegation, including Hakeem Jeffries, Jerrold Nadler, and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez
- 11 State Senators, including Chairman of Committee on Judiciary Brad Hoylman
- Jumaane Williams: New York City Public Advocate
- More than 150 faith-based leaders
Many of the letters submitted by these people emphasized that Judy is a symbol of transformation and rehabilitation, and state the Parole Board’s decision will be seen as a barometer of whether the New York criminal justice system values and encourages the rehabilitation of the incarcerated.
“In all of my years of public service I have come across few people, if any, who are more deserving of a second chance than Judith Clark,” wrote Mr. Morgenthau in a letter to the Parole Board.
“I firmly believe she should be granted release as a result of her full rehabilitation, genuine remorse and acceptance of responsibility for her crime and its consequences, and her stellar record of good deeds while incarcerated,” wrote Judge Lippman in his letter.
In her letter, Brinks robbery victim Norma Hill wrote Judith Clark “has constantly expressed her remorse to me.”
In a joint letter signed by over 70 elected officials across New York state, the authors frame Judy’s case within the larger context of the parole system:
“Our correctional system no longer exists solely for retribution but also for rehabilitation. While parole can cause great pain to victims and their families, it is your role to hold open the door of mercy in appropriate circumstance — meaning where there has been ample punishment, overwhelming proof of rehabilitation, acceptance of responsibility and genuine remorse. That is precisely Judith Clark’s situation.”
In the decades since her incarceration, Judy has grown deeply remorseful for her actions and issued numerous public apologies. She has, among numerous other achievements, started an AIDS counseling program that was so effective it has been replicated in prisons nationwide. She teaches mothering and prenatal health classes at the prison nursery, and trains dogs through the Puppies Behind Bars program for first responders, which helps law enforcement officers and wounded veterans.
The Parole Board itself has agreed that there is no dispute that, if released, Judy will pose no threat to society. Superintendent Lord specifically noted in her letter that: “No one needs to fear Judy Clark. Instead, she has so much to offer society.”
Thirteen former Presidents of the New York City Bar Association, who have served as judges, prosecutors, law school deans, and in many other notable positions, wrote that Judy’s “transformation and extraordinary achievements demonstrate that she represents the best example of what the corrections system can be,” and that “no purpose can be served by keeping people like Ms. Clark in prison […] and will not make what she has done any less serious. But releasing her from prison will send a loud and important message to other prisoners that if they reform themselves, they too may be released from prison one day.”