To listen the article select text   Click to listen highlighted text! To listen the article select text

Kathy Boudin’s Remarkable Journey | The Nation

I met Kathy Boudin in the visiting room at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in the 1990s. Her lawyer, the legendary defense attorney Len Weinglass, was working on her clemency petition and wanted me to write a letter assuring the Clemency Board that if it granted her petition, I would offer employment at the organization I led (the Osborne Association, a nonprofit dedicated to transforming prisons for the people who live in them, work in them, and visit them). I said I could offer Kathy a job only if I spoke with her directly to understand the work she wanted to do. Although Kathy’s parents and mine were friends—and we had many friends in common, and our kids went to the same summer camp—I had never met her.

Having been involved in prison work since Attica, I had already had many opportunities to see that “there but for the grace of God…,” but when I got to know Kathy, that sense became visceral—real. It was clear to me that women raised like we were—who still remembered all the words to “Banks of Marble,” who thought we would advance the movements for peace, civil rights, and justice—could have gone in any direction. That I ended up in law school and Kathy went underground was dumb luck. In her case, luck ran out.

But it was more than luck—or the loss of it—that sent Kathy on a journey to really understand how she came to be where she was. And this internal journey not only did not detract from the amazing work she was doing inside—on programs around AIDS, parenting, college, while mentoring and supporting the women she lived with and their children—it super-charged it.

I was not Kathy’s only visitor, far from it. It seemed like everyone she knew, from the time she was in elementary school, stayed close. But she also sought to meet with people who were survivors of her crime and other crimes of violence, including a police officer who had been shot in the line of duty. Although I had met dozens of incarcerated men and women who had genuine regret and remorse for the harm they had caused, and who had transformed their lives, I had never witnessed or been part of this kind of self-study.

I felt part of it because Kathy and I shared something central to our lives: The father of my two children was serving a long prison term for a murder in which he was not the shooter, as Kathy’s son was the child of two parents serving a long term for a murder in which they were not the shooters. All of us had made decisions in one way or another that our children were paying for. And all three incarcerated parents had to come to accept that, whether or not they directly caused the death of another human being, they were responsible for the destruction of many families, including their own.

I wrote the letter offering Kathy employment. And I kept visiting. Kathy did not get clemency, and did not make parole when she was first eligible after 20 years. But still, I kept visiting. And then two years later, in 2003, she did make parole, thanks to her deeply expressed acceptance of responsibility for her actions, and to two brave parole commissioners—a decision that cost them their jobs. (When one of these dear souls, Vernon Manley, died last year, Kathy stood alone outside in the rain at his funeral, ever grateful for his acknowledgement of her remorse.)

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Click to listen highlighted text!