On Friday evening, aides to Mr. Cuomo said that while he was impressed with her rehabilitation, he could have chosen to commute her sentence in such a way that she would immediately have been released. Instead, he chose to simply make her eligible for parole.
âJudith Clark deserved the opportunity to make her case for parole based on her extensive prison programming, her perfect disciplinary record while incarcerated, and impressive self-development over the past 35 years,â said Dani Lever, a spokeswoman for the governor. âThe commutation afforded her that opportunity and we respect the parole boardâs decision.â
The three members of the board voted unanimously against parole; only one of them was a Cuomo appointee.
In announcing the decision, the board said its members ârespect and understand the governorâs lawful decision to exercise his unique discretion in your case.â
It stressed, however, that it was an independent body and that its decision was based on âsubstantial additional information that was created and submitted pursuant to our unique process.â
While parole board hearings are not public and transcripts are not yet available, a summary explaining their decision was released late Friday.
It focused on the unique nature of her case and the message her release would send to law enforcement. âWe do find that your release at this time is incompatible with the welfare of society as expressed by relevant officials and thousands of its members,â the board wrote. âYou are still a symbol of a terroristic crime.â
Ms. Clarkâs case became something of a Rorschach test for how people view punishment for a crime, and it sparked a debate about rehabilitation.
Law enforcement groups have steadfastly opposed Ms. Clarkâs release, and last month, Republican state senators gave the parole board a petition, which they said contained 10,000 signatures, urging that she be kept in prison.
Some relatives of those killed also opposed her parole, expressing deep disappointment with Mr. Cuomoâs decision.
A groundswell of support for Ms. Clark began even before her sentence was commuted.
Last year, 13 former presidents of the New York City Bar Association signed a letter seeking clemency; so have prison officials who have worked with Ms. Clark during her incarceration, most of which she has spent at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women in Westchester County.
Ms. Clark has said it was not until she was locked away that she came to know herself.
Her radicalization had started young.
She was just 14 when she began to delve deeply into politics, gravitating to the Weather Underground and an even more radical offshoot, the May 19th Communist…