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60's Radical Kathy Boudin Paroled After 22 Years

"'Hysterically Happy' 60s Radical Kathy Boudin Paroled"

Associated Press, August 20, 2003

ALBANY, NY -- Kathy Boudin, the '60s radical who has served 22 years in prison for
a 1981 armored car heist in which three men were killed, was granted parole
Wednesday. Boudin, 60, a one-time member of the Weather Underground described as a
model inmate in prison, had been denied parole just three months ago, as
well as two years ago. Thomas Grant, a spokesman for the state Division of Parole, said Boudin
would be released from prison on Oct. 1 or earlier, once her plans for
parole supervision were set.

Grant said parole was granted by a two-member hearing panel after an
interview with Boudin that lasted for one hour and 16 minutes Wednesday
afternoon at the Bedford Hills state prison in Westchester County where she
has been serving time.

"Right now, she's hysterically happy ... What I heard on the phone were
screaming and crying. She was with the prison chaplain, Sister Elaine," said
Boudin's lawyer, Leonard Weinglass.

Weinglass said Boudin planned to live in New York City and work at a
hospital there on AIDS research after her release.

A nephew of one of three men killed, Sgt. Edward OGrady, said, "Todays Eddies
birthday. He would have been 55 years old, so its especially difficult."

"I just hope Boudin is sincere in her claim to be a changed woman and no
other family has to suffer like ours did," added John Hanchar, who was 10
years old when his uncle was killed. "I'm a cop now and I patrol the same
street where he died."

After a court-ordered parole hearing in May at the prison, Boudin had been
denied parole and the hearing panel had told her: "Your many achievements are
clearly outweighed by the serious and brutal nature of the crimes for which
you pled guilty."

Boudin's parole approval was announced Wednesday without any explanation for
the change of heart. Grant said a transcript of the hearing would not be
available for a few days. He said the two state parole board commissioners --
there are 19 of them who interviewed Boudin on Wednesday -- had not been
involved in her two earlier hearings.

In prison, Boudin has developed a program on parenting behind bars and
helped write a handbook for inmates whose children are in foster care. She
also earned a masters degree in adult education and worked to help inmates
with AIDS.

She has a grown son, who was just 14 months old when she participated in the
robbery. He was raised by friends and graduated from Yale University in May.
Weinglass said the son was on his way back to New York from Nebraska after
receiving the news of his mother's parole approval.

Boudin's possible release had been staunchly opposed by the families, friends
and colleagues of the three men who were killed OGrady and Officer Waverly
Brown of the Nyack police and Peter Paige, a Brinks guard.

Det. Lt. Jim Stewart of the Rockland County district attorneys office said
the parole approval was really shocking.

"I didnt expect this, since the parole board was very strong in its opinion
just three months ago as to keeping her incarcerated," said Stewart.

But Norma Hill, who had a gun thrust into her face during the robbery and
testified against Boudin at trial, said the parole decision was a victory
for justice and rehabilitation.

"Kathy has worked very hard to get to where she is today," added Hill, who
later befriended Boudin while doing volunteer work at the Bedford Hills

Brent Newbury, president of the Rockland County Patrolmens Benevolent
Association, said he was surprised by the ruling, but that it was time to
move on.

"Rather than be bitter about it, were just going to hope the parole board
made the right decision," Newbury said.

Boudin was denied parole at her first hearing in 2001, but a judge in Albany
ruled the original board failed to take into account the recommendation of
the sentencing judge that she be paroled after 20 years. That ruling led to
the May parole hearing at which she was again denied parole. Wednesday's
hearing was her regularly scheduled appearance before the parole board.

Boudin, daughter of civil rights attorney Leonard Boudin, became a radical
activist in the 1960s. She was recruited for the Brinks robbery by Black
Liberation Army members and other radicals who apparently wanted to have
white people driving the getaway vehicle, a U-Haul truck, to throw off

In the robbery at the Nanuet Mall, $1.6 million was stolen and the security
guard was killed. The police officers were gunned down when their truck,
with Boudin in the passenger seat and fellow radical David Gilbert at the
wheel, was stopped at a roadblock in Nyack and the gang burst from the back
of the vehicle with automatic weapons firing.

Boudin was apprehended as she fled the scene. She pleaded guilty to felony
murder and robbery and was sentenced to 20 years to life. She had told the
parole board in 2001 that at the time of the robbery, she understood the
money would be used to help the black community.

"I think that in my mind, it was like, OK, this is like Robin Hood taking
from the rich and giving to the poor," she said. But she added, "I dont think
there is any way to pay the debt for my being involved or participating in
the crime that destroyed families and destroyed men; it destroyed people who
were defending their community from people like me. They were honorable and
I wasn't."

During her May parole hearing, Boudin had said, "I saw myself as the person
who felt extremely guilty about being white and growing up as a privileged

She also told the parole board she took no part in the planning of the
robbery, was not armed and was terrified when the gun battle ensued. She
called the crime "terrible, horrendous and horrible" during that parole hearing.