The action and the thought behind this proposal, floated by a New York Times editorial is a really bad idea, as is any reduction of sentence for criminals involved—even as a driver—in murdering police officers.
Early next week, the New York State Board of Parole will hear the petition of Judith Clark, who has spent 35 years in prison for her role in the 1981 robbery of a Brinks armored car in Rockland County that resulted in the murder of two police officers and a guard.
Ms. Clark was sentenced to a minimum of 75 years, the harshest punishment available, even though, as a getaway driver, she was not at the scene of the crime. Now 67, she was certain to die in prison — until Gov. Andrew Cuomo in December commuted her sentence to 35 years, making her eligible for parole immediately.
Mr. Cuomo met privately with Ms. Clark before making what he knew would be a very controversial decision, particularly among police unions and other law enforcement groups. In the end, he was impressed with her unconditional remorse, her acceptance of responsibility for the crime, the wide range of supporters urging her release, and the positive work she has done while behind bars, like establishing educational programs for fellow inmates.
“We call it the correction system,” Mr. Cuomo said. “I think the situation is corrected as it is ever going to be, unless you can bring a person back to life.”
In addition to Ms. Clark’s sentence, Mr. Cuomo commuted the lengthy terms of four other people convicted of murder or manslaughter. These grants serve as an important reminder that while the fact of a crime never changes, the person who commits it can….
If the Parole Board decides to grant Ms. Clark’s request for release, she may live the rest of her life in freedom. While there is sure to be resistance from the victims’ families, it is the right thing to do.