Judith Clark, a 1960s radical and the getaway driver of the 1981 robbery of a Brinks truck in Nanuet, New York, was the subject of a controversial article this Sunday, looking at her transformation in prison, and sparking a debate about rehabilitation.Sparking a debate amongst, I’d guess, the sort of people Eve Ensler hangs out with. I can’t imagine it being much of a topic of conversation around the average US breakfast table.
I met Judy in 1996 at Bedford Hills correctional facility in upstate New York when, for five years, she participated in a writing group I ran. The group was mainly for long-term inmates who had committed violent crimes; the purpose was to give them a place, and a creative process, where they could come to terms with their actions, and take responsibility for their crimes, through writing – confessions, dreams, rants, memories.
It was an incredibly arduous, emotional process and in that time I got a deep look into the women in my group. I witnessed their bravery, their fear, but mainly their hunger for honesty…It’s almost like a parody of a CiF column, isn’t it?
I know few people in the outside world who would have survived the rigour and ferocity of their self-scrutiny.Fancy that! I know few people who’d volunteer to drive the getaway car for a violent terrorist group…
If we call these places correctional facilities, we should be serious about rehabilitation. Yet instead of offering groups, methods and programs for prisoners to address their crimes, we merely recreate violent and inhumane environments – throwing people who have often suffered violence, poverty and degradation in the earliest parts of their lives into even greater cruelty, inhumanity and violence.Judy Clark, however, has suffered none of those things, being the daughter of middle class American Communists.
Judy was sentenced to 75 years. She has already served 31. I believe she should be released now. She is a transformed person – kind, wise, moral, spiritual, devoted to others. I will stake my life that she will do good and not harm.But you aren’t just staking your life, are you? You’re staking everyone else’s life.
I know there will be victims of her crimes who will be outraged by my support and sympathy for her.There won’t, however, be anyone who is surprised by it…
Let's free Judy … and then I've got a long list of others.And I bet they are all left-wing women.