KATHY BOUDIN AND PAROLE DENIAL
Noted with dismay: New York prison officials' recent decision to deny parole to former Weather Underground fugitive Kathy Boudin. This magazine can spare no sympathy for the 1981 Brink's robbery in which Boudin drove the getaway truck while former members of the Black Liberation Army killed two police officers and a security guard. But Boudin was an accessory, not a principal, in that robbery and had surrendered before the officers were killed. In twenty years behind bars, she has embodied the ideal of a prisoner remaking her life: earning a graduate degree and teaching other inmates at Bedford Hills. Even though the victims of the Brink's robbery and their families were divided over Boudin, Governor George Pataki chose to heed a vocal campaign by Rockland County police officials to keep her locked up. That denial is part of a national pattern in which governors, in the name of fighting crime, have made it almost impossible for prisoners to earn parole. In some states 80 percent of all applications are denied. The denial of parole is a hidden engine of the nationwide prison crisis that's breaking states' treasuries–and at the same time is leaving large numbers of nonviolent offenders with no incentive to rebuild their lives. The point of parole is precisely for officials and offenders alike to step back from the acts that got inmates locked up in the first place and look at the whole life. No possible purpose is served by keeping Boudin incarcerated.
ON THE WEB: THIS WEEK@THENATION.COM
From the UN World Conference Against Racism in Durban Mark Gevisser writes that South African President Thabo Mbeki proclaimed that the divide between North and South "also coincides with the divide between white and black, broadly defined." Meanwhile, the Congress of South African Trade Unions struck to protest his government's "neoliberal" economic policy. Re the US-Israel walkout: Charles Tanzer reports that while the United States emphasized concern over the language about Israel in the final document, it "spent its time challenging nearly every word of the text, objecting to language that might actually require it to take steps to combat racism or acknowledge that slavery was a crime against humanity" (see www.thenation.com).
CAREY McWILLIAMS AWARD
Victor Navasky is co-winner of the American Political Science Association's Carey McWilliams Award. Named after The Nation's great editor, the award honors "a major journalistic contribution to our understanding of politics." The other winner is William Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard. Asked how the association justified giving the award to the proprietors of two such different magazines, a spokesman said that they had in common a willingness to alienate their own constituencies. We congratulate Navasky and commend to Kristol the writings of Carey McWilliams.