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Son of '60s Radical Kathy Boudin Awaits Her Parole

Aired August 21, 2003 - 20:38   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: By October 1, Kathy Boudin will be paroled after serving some 22 years in prison. Boudin once belonged to a radical group called the Weather Underground. She took part in a 1981 armored truck robbery in which a security guard and two police officers were shot and killed.
Joining me now from Chicago for an exclusive interview is Boudin's son, Chesa. Thanks so much for being with us tonight.

CHESA BOUDIN, KATHY BOUDIN'S SON: My pleasure, Paula. Thanks for having me.

ZAHN: Well, first of all, did you ever think your mother would be paroled?

BOUDIN: Well, I dreamed about this day, but it's -- it's sort of surreal. It's hard to -- it's hard to believe it's actually here. And at this point, I'm just overwhelmed with joy and really looking forward to the moment when she walks through the prison gates and we can embrace in freedom for the first time.

ZAHN: I know you had the opportunity to talk with your mom a couple times today. How is she viewing the next stage of her life?

BOUDIN: Oh, well, it was -- it was great to talk to her and to hear her voice and to be able to connect around such an emotional, such an intense time for both of us. We're both just overjoyed. She's clearly ecstatic, and we're both looking forward very much to her release date and to being rejoined together as a family.

ZAHN: You know, it's interesting because when you talk to anybody that's followed this case closely, they are shocked your mother was paroled. And I wanted to review something that the parole board actually said when denying her parole just this past May. And here's the quote. "Release would so diminish the extreme seriousness of your crimes as to undermine respect for the law and the lives that were so tragically cut short on that October day in 1981."

Why the turnaround in just 90 days or so?

BOUDIN: Well, Paula, there's a couple factors I think that are pretty important there. One is we've been able to correct a lot of the misconceptions about what my mother's role in the crime were. A lot of people talked about her going into this first round of parole as a cop killer, as a terrorist, as a murderer. Well, none of those things were true. And if -- if -- you know, as people have looked more closely at the trial record, it's -- it's clear that she did not, in fact, have a direct role in the crime. A polygraph test administered by the police at the time of her trial showed that my mother did not have a weapon and did not intend for anyone to be hurt. And the judge's investigation into that matter, as well, revealed that my mother played a limited role in the crime and had -- had no desire to see anyone get hurt at all.

ZAHN: And yet your mother publicly has expressed remorse for her actions because didn't her actions end up, maybe in an indirect way, causing the deaths of three people?

BOUDIN: Well, there's no question about -- about the seriousness of the crime, and I know that this is a very difficult moment for the families of Peter Paige, Edward O'Grady and Waverly Brown. And I hope and my mother hopes that her release can move this healing process, the reconciliation process forward because that's ultimately the best thing for everybody. There's -- there's nothing my mother would like more than to have the opportunity to tell those families how sorry she is for her role in the crime 22 years ago.

ZAHN: And Chesa, realistically, just describe to us how challenging that might be. I'm sure you've seen some of the reaction of family members today, one family member saying, I just hope Boudin is sincere in her claim to be a changed woman and no other family member has to suffer like ours did.

BOUDIN: Yes, well, I absolutely appreciate that sentiment, and I think that there's no question my mom is going to come out of prison and she's going to begin doing work both in adult education and with AIDS prevention and treatment. She's going to dedicate her energy to helping other people, to trying got save lives. And I think if she is given an opportunity, I know that she'll do whatever she can to continue expressing her remorse to those families. She has written about it.

There are numerous cases -- for example, in the trial, she expressed her remorse. In the parole file, again, she has written about her remorse. And the difficult thing has been expressing that to the families, conveying it to them in a way that's not invasive. And we all want to respect their privacy and the difficulty that this -- this entire situation must bring to them.

ZAHN: Well, we appreciate your sharing some of your thoughts with us tonight. We know you haven't had an easy life growing up with both of your parents in prison. Thank you very much for joining us.

BOUDIN: Thank you very much. My pleasure. Thank you.


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