Kathy Boudin, 60's Radical, Denied Parole
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- Kathy Boudin, a one-time member of the radical
Weather Underground who was convicted of murder and robbery in
connection with a 1981 Brink's armored car heist in New York, was
denied parole on Wednesday.
A security guard and two police officers were killed in the Oct.
20, 1981, robbery and subsequent roadblock shootout with police in
suburban Rockland County just north of New York City.
It was Boudin's first appearance before the parole board. She was
ordered held for at least another two years.
State parole officials, who interviewed Boudin at the Bedford
Hills state prison for women in Westchester County where she has
been held since her sentencing in 1984, said Boudin's release would
"undermine respect for the law."
Boudin was interviewed by a two-member parole board panel for just
over 45 minutes on Wednesday morning.
Boudin, 58, is serving a 20 years-to-life sentence. She was part
of the getaway team for six armed radicals who robbed the Brink's
truck of $1.6 million.
Leonard Weinglass, Boudin's lawyer, said, "It's a sad day for
Kathy. She was sentenced to 20 years by a judge who sat on her case
for two and a half years and knew all the facts, and she did her 20
years with honor. And for the system now not to keep its promise to
someone who has been on exemplary behavior for two decades
undermines respect for the law."
Boudin's parole had been opposed by relatives of the slain
officers and the security guard, law enforcement officials and by
Gov. George Pataki, who appoints the members of the parole board.
Supporters of Boudin had argued that she had turned her life
around while in prison, working to help inmates with AIDS and
earning a master's degree in adult education while behind bars.
Boudin, who had a year-old son when arrested, also developed a
program on parenting behind bars and helped write a handbook for
inmates whose children are in foster care.
Linda Foglia, a spokeswoman for the state prison system, said that
during her more than 17 years at Bedford Hills, Boudin had just
three minor discipline infractions and none since 1989.
While the parole board noted her good behavior in prison, the
officials also said that "due to the violent nature and
circumstances" of the crime, "your release at this time would be
incompatible with the welfare of society and would serve to
deprecate the seriousness of the criminal behavior."
"We're satisified that the justice system worked. The parole board
made the right decision based on the heinous nature and violence of
this crime," said Rockland County Sheriff Jim Kralik.
"Nobody is gloating over this. This is a tragedy for all involved.
We're convinced that justice was served, and that the penalty
requires much more than just a minimum of 20 years for the
well-thought-out, well-planned murder of police officers and a
"It comes down to a very important question of redemption versus
justice and penalty. We weren't interested in vengeance."
Norma Hill, who witnessed the murder of the officers, testified
against Boudin and later, as a prison volunteer, met and befriended
her, said she was "deeply disappointed" in the parole board ruling,
but "I feel optimistic that she will make it the next time, and I
will continue to support her."
Boudin had been considered a long-shot for parole given the
notoriety of her crime and the fact that in New York only about 5
percent of inmates serving time for murder are paroled when they
are first eligible.
Also, Pataki, who is expected to face a tough battle for a third
term next year, had made it clear he didn't want her released.
"Please know that I, too, am strongly opposed to the release of
Ms. Boudin, whose cowardly acts of terrorism in October of 1981
shattered so many innocent lives," the governor wrote in a May 23
letter to Diane O'Grady, the widow of Sgt. Edward O'Grady.
Following the parole board's decision, Pataki issued a statement
saying he strongly supported the denial. "My thoughts and prayers
go out to the families" of the victims, the governor said.
O'Grady and fellow Nyack police officer Waverly Brown were gunned
down by the gang when their U-Haul truck being used as the getaway
vehicle was stopped at a roadblock in Nyack at an entrance to the
New York State Thruway. Killed earlier that day in the robbery was
Brink's guard Peter Paige.
Boudin eventually pleaded guilty to felony murder for her part in
the killing of the Brink's guard. Other members of the gang were
sentenced to much longer prison terms.
Among the others accused was Susan Rosenberg, but charges against
her were dropped after she was sentenced to 58 years for weapons
possession in a separate case. When President Bill Clinton commuted
her sentence in January, those close to the Brink's victims were
At a rally last month in Nyack, hundreds of area residents held
glowing blue lightsticks as they walked through the darkness from a
park alongside the Hudson River to a post office to mail tens of
thousands of anti-parole letters to the governor and the state
Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef, who had addressed
the July rally, said Wednesday that he was pleased by the decision.
"My opinion is that no matter how good one is in jail, there is
the issue of punishment which is appropriate when a police officer
is killed," he said.
But Lynn Temple, a member of the Nyack-based "Friends and
Supporters of Kathy Boudin" group said, "The truth of the matter is
that she was not directly involved in the killings. She had no gun
in her possession." "We were prepared for this and we're prepared
to spend the next two years trying to educate the public as to what
really happened," Temple said.
But state Assemblyman Alexander Gromack, a Rockland County
Republican, said, "While she may not have pulled the trigger
herself, the blood of those three men still stains her hands."
Boudin, daughter of civil rights attorney Leonard Boudin, became a
radical activist in the 1960s. Before the Brink's job, she had last
been seen in 1970, naked, outside a townhouse in Greenwich Village
after a bomb that was being assembled there killed three members of
the Weather Underground.
She later signed on with Black Liberation Army members and other
radicals who were planning to rob the Brink's armored car and
apparently wanted to have white people driving the getaway vehicle
to throw off pursuers.
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