The Return of Katherine Ann Power

Letter From Boston

Last fall, an editor at my suburban Boston daily urged readers to reflect on "a personal essay, lyrical but not flowery," by one of our "neighbors" at the Massachusetts Correctional Institute in Framingham, the state penitentiary for women. "The least we can do," he wrote, "is put our ears against the tall brick walls" and let Kathy Power tell us about her "community." This might seem a modest and charitable request, if the name Katherine Ann Power didn't ring a bell. But once the history that led her to MCI is revisited, you may decide you know more than enough about "Kathy" without needing to absorb her latest exercise in self-pity.

On September 23, 1970, there was an armed robbery at the State Street Bank on Western Avenue in the Brighton section of Boston. Two men and one woman burst in, shouted "we mean business," and fired into the walls. It was politically motivated violence: the stolen cash was to finance attacks on "the state," and somehow impede the war in Vietnam.

The armed robbers were Susan Saxe, William Gilday, and Stanley Bond. The last two were high school dropouts and ex-cons, attending Brandeis University as "special students," under an early type of affirmative action. They stored their weapons and stolen ammo in the apartment of fellow student Katherine Power, a rich girl from Denver, who shared their political...

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