Read the Commentary by Eve Ensler in the January 2012 U.K. Guardian.
Letters of Support
Over 900 people wrote letters to Governor Paterson urging him to grant Judy Clark clemency.
Here are excerpts from some of the letters of support:
[Ms. Clark] is the most worthy candidate for clemency that I’ve seen in all my years as Parole Board Commissioner and Chairman.
–Robert Dennison, retired Chairman, New York State Board of Parole
Over many years, I watched [Ms. Clark] change into one of the most perceptive, thoughtful, helpful and profound human beings that I have ever known either inside or outside of a prison.
–Elaine Lord, retired Superintendent, Bedford Hills Prison
I realize that granting Judy clemency will take an enormous act of courage on your part. However, I believe you are a man of courage and I do not believe that Judy will let you down.
–Norma Hill, victim whose car was commandeered by one of the Brinks’ robbers
I was a student at Nyack High School at the time of the Brink’s Robbery in 1981. It was a crime that shook the entire town. I was among the hundreds who attended the wake for the Nyack police officers who were killed near the entrance to the thruway. Yet I am writing you now to ask you to please consider clemency for Judith Clark….
Please understand, that as a lifetime resident of Nyack, I know that a clemency for [Judith Clark] would be met with understanding.
–Tim McCann, a lifelong resident of Nyack who was in high school at the time of the Brinks incident
[When I met Judy], I had been a college teacher for 20 years and considered myself an experienced teacher. Nevertheless, there were things I learned from Judy [in ACE] that changed my approach to teaching. I watched her identify and nurture her students’ talents. I saw her energize women and direct them to goals they probably never had. I admired the way she assisted other women in finding ways to resolve their conflicts.
–Suzanne Kessler, Vice Provost and Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Purchase College, SUNY
When I became the first Chaplain at the regional medical unit at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, Judy assisted me in all the services. She was our Jewish voice. She was our caring mother and she symbolized hope to so many without hope.
My many years at the prison have taught me that the sign of true rehabilitation is watching an inmate deal with the complex emotion of remorse. There are times when remorse is too painful to touch so people do not touch it.
In all my dealings (and there were many) I watched Judy not only touch remorse, but embrace it, own it, and carry it with her every day.
–Sister Elaine Roulet, former director and founder of the Children’s Center at Bedford, as well as the former Chaplain at Bedford (now retired)
I have been profoundly moved by Judy’s ability to take responsibility for the crime while acknowledging she obviously has no way of repairing the lives of the men who died or their families. I have been overwhelmed by Judy’s commitment to living a life within the prison walls that has allowed mothers to learn how to raise children, a life that has helped prisoners affected with AIDS, a life that has been committed to higher education, a life that allows her to serve as a spiritual guide and wise elder to so many through her chaplaincy work, and finally a life that has taught her she is worthy of the privilege of living a life outside the walls of Bedford Hills.
–Rabbi Felicia L. Sol, B’Nai Jeshurun
After Pell grants were removed for prisoners, we were both on the College Bound committee charged with designing the college and then the evaluation. To both tasks, Judy brought her classic brilliance and ethics.
–Michelle Fine, Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York
As a teacher educator, I teach courses in Infant/Toddler, Child, and Adult Development. In my work, I include Judy’s writing about her work with young mothers in prison and her own reflections on adult conceptions of change and transformation. Students comment on her wisdom, her unique insights and her broad and deep knowledge about children, families and life. Some have developed a writing relationship with her as a result of “meeting” her through her writing.
–Virginia Casper, Dean, Graduate School of Education, Bank Street College of Education
As a medical student I worked with ACE and saw how Judy’s powerful compassion and brilliance enabled her to understand and provide support for women living with a deadly, stigmatizing disease inside.
–Donna Futterman, M.D. Professor of Clinical Pediatrics Director, Adolescent AIDS Program Children’s Hospital at Montefiore
I first met Judy Clark at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility twenty-seven years ago when I was the Director of the Division for Women and a member of Governor Cuomo’s cabinet. We were working with the Superintendent to design programs for women who had been abused and battered. I wanted to meet her because I knew her mother and father socially and somehow I felt a bond. She was sitting on a couch watching some mindless daytime television, disinterested and withdrawn.
She is now anything but that. In fact she exemplifies the benefits of our concept of rehabilitation. She recognizes the destruction her misguided beliefs brought to the families involved and tries every day to show her remorse by her caring and actions. She is never idle. Her writing and manner reveal her spiritual transformation. Her determination to help so many is demonstrated by her incredible projects and activities. She inspires the Bedford women to strive, continue their education and find the sense of worth so many of them need.
–Ronnie Eldridge, Director of the Division for Women under Governor Mario Cuomo; New York City councilmember, 1989-2001
Judith is a woman who deserves and needs to come home. Her continued incarceration would certainly be a fraudulent use of taxpayers’ dollars intended to protect the public from the dangerous, or to punish those who have been violent in the past. It would also deprive the community of the work of a productive citizen. I and countless others who have dedicated our lives to improving the conditions faced by women await her arrival. We know that she has at least as much to teach outside prison as she has taught within.
–Gloria Steinem, writer
…Whatever [Judy] was, whatever she did – and what she did was terrible – she is now a person of such radiance, such worth, such depth that I simply cannot believe she belongs in prison any more. I know others who were involved in the Brinks robbery case have been released from prison – and still others never went to prison. Judy has earned release.
–Madeline Lee, former Executive Director of the New York Foundation
I vividly remember the very first day I met Judy, a hot summer day as I sat in the prison yard…feeling sad, depressed and all alone. This was a yard filled with hundreds of women; as I looked up, I suddenly saw this woman with the biggest and brightest smile, who proceeded to sit down beside me…. I left the yard that day feeling (for what seemed like the first time in a long time) optimistic and like I was not alone. That was the first day of many that Judy supported me during my incarceration and helped me realize I could turn my dark situation into a brighter one. In fact, I obtained both a G.E.D. and a bachelor’s degree while incarcerated. Since my release, I have earned a masters in social work and was named “Student of the Year” by the National Association of Social Workers. I have worked in various roles at several community-based organizations that offer supportive services to formerly incarcerated individuals.
…For 27 years Judy has unselfishly offered support and direction to the women of Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, promoting healthier decision-making, reducing the chances of recidivism and breaking the cycle of despair for hundreds of New York families whose lives have been affected by the criminal justice system.
–Mary Johnson, M.S.W., who was incarcerated with Judy for 15 years and went on to be named “Student of the Year” by the National Association of Social Workers
I first met Judy Clark twenty years ago when I went up to Bedford Hills Correctional Facility to meet Jean Harris. That visit changed my life. While talking to Jean, I couldn’t take my eyes off a young, vibrant inmate entering the visitor’s room. Her radiant smile and the spirited way in which she greeted other inmates and visitors were mesmerizing….
I wrote to Judy, telling her I would like to do her story. Judy replied that she would love to meet me but wanted no publicity. I made and kept that promise.
In visiting Judy once a month for twenty years, I have been witness to [all of her work]…. It is not only a waste of Judy’s life to remain in prison, it is a loss to the outside world. My husband always says, “Think of the good Judy could do out here.”
–Joan Gelman, television producer and writer, author, and former columnist
Brinks conspirator: “I Am Deeply Sorry,” The Journal News (2002)
Recently, I found out that one of the victims of the World Trade Center attack was Joseph Trombino, a 68-year old man who had worked as a Brinks security guard.
Twenty years ago, I participated with a group of self-described revolutionaries in the failed robbery of a Brinks car in Rockland, in which Mr. Trombino was shot and injured and his partner, Peter Paige, and two Nyack police officers, Sgt. Edward O’Grady and Officer Waverly Brown, were killed.
I am in prison for that crime.
Letter to the Editor, Fortune News (1994)
To the Editor:
I want to thank Fortune News for its issue on women in prison, and for including my poem, “Reasons.” Richard Stratton’s thoughtful editorial underlines your interest in including the voices and concerns of women prisoners in Fortune News. I wish to comment on one particular point in Richard’s editorial. He draws a distinction between most women prisoners, who, he believes, are not proud of what they have done, and political prisoners, who “were active, knowing participants in endeavors labeled criminal because they were directed toward attacking the status quo.” Because I was one of the writers featured in that issue, and my case, stemming from a 1981 attempted Brinks car robbery in which two policemen, Waverly Brown and Edward O’Grady, and an armored car guard, Peter Paige, were killed, was a highly visible, politically charged case, I feel it necessary to address this point personally.