[Ppnews] Sara Jane Olson Released

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Mar 17 13:33:20 EDT 2009

Jane Olson to serve parole in Minnesota

8:33 AM | March 17, 2009

  Sara Jane Olson, a former member of the Symbionese Liberation Army 
who tried to assassinate Los Angeles police officers by placing pipe 
bombs under squad cars more than 30 years ago, 
released on parole today, state corrections officials announced.

Olson, 62, was known as Kathleen Soliah during her SLA days. She was 
released shortly after midnight from Central California Women's 
Facility in Chowchilla, authorities said. She was released to the 
custody of two state parole agents,  who took her to a parole office 
in Madera County, where she was processed and was met by her husband, 
said Department of Corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton.

Her parole will be supervised in Minnesota, where she is planning to 
live near her family, though she is still under California authority 
and is subject to conditions of parole in both states, Thornton said.

Angeles police officials said they were "extremely disappointed" by 
the decision to let Olson leave California and criticized Gov. Arnold 
Schwarzenegger for not intervening in the matter.

"We believe the governor should have used his discretion in this 
matter to ensure Olson stay under the watch of California authorities 
as she finished out her sentence," said President Paul M. Weber of 
the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents 
the LAPD's rank-and-file officers.

Olson was convicted in 1975 in Los Angeles County for attempting to 
kill two Los Angeles Police Department officers with pipe bombs.

"It was Los Angeles police officers she attempted to blow up," Weber 
said. "She hasn't paid her full debt until she completes parole. 
Parole allows people to be released from prison earlier than their 
full sentence, under the theory that their re-integration into 
society will be monitored.

"If they violate any rules on parole," he continued, "they will be 
returned to prison. By returning to Minnesota, this gives her a free 
pass on the balance of time that she should serve."

-- Andrew Blankstein and Ari B. Bloomekatz
March 17, 2009, 9:15 am

Former Symbionese Liberation Army Member Released From Prison

By <http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/author/robert-mackey/>Robert Mackey

Updated | 12:26 p.m. Sara Jane Olson, a former radical who was a 
member of the Symbionese Liberation Army in the 1970s, was 
on parole on Tuesday in California. Ms. Olson had served nearly seven 
years in jail for attempting to kill two Los Angeles police officers 
with pipe bombs in 1975. Ms. Olson had also served a concurrent 
six-year sentence for second-degree murder in the 1975 shooting death 
of a customer in a bank robbery.

Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the California Department of 
Corrections, told the Associated Press that Olson was released from 
the Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla early on Tuesday.

reports that Jon Opsahl, whose mother Myrna Opsahl was killed during 
the S.L.A. robbery in 1975, at a branch of Crocker National Bank in 
Carmichael, Calif., "doesn't think 
domestic-terrorist-turned-housewife Sara Jane Olson served nearly 
enough time for his mother's murder." Mrs. Opsahl was killed by a 
shotgun blast 
by one of Ms. Olson's accomplices. According to CNN, Mr. Opsahl said: 
"I've really got nothing to say. She did her time, as minimal as that 
may have been."

Last week, corrections officials in Minnesota 
to Ms. Olson's request to serve her time on parole in that state 
instead of California. Before she was arrested in 1999, after being 
featured in an episode of the television program "America's Most 
Wanted," she had 
<http://www.startribune.com/local/16894551.html>lived the life of a 
soccer mom in Minnesota, using the name Sara Jane Olson. (She born 
Kathleen Soliah and known by that name in her S.L.A. days.)
Tom Olmscheid/Associated Press Sara Jane Olson playing Susan B. 
Anthony in 1990.

After her arrest in 1999, details of her life in hiding came out and 
she was, <http://www.startribune.com/local/16894551.html>a Minnesota 
newspaper noted, "almost canonized: reader of newspapers for the 
blind, volunteer among victims of torture, organizer of soup 
kitchens." She even felt secure enough in her new identity to have 
appeared, in 1990, in the role of Susan B. Anthony in an amateur 
theatrical production inside the Minnesota House of Representatives 
in St. Paul.

Though she has the permission of Minnesota's corrections department, 
it is still not entirely clear whether Ms. Olson will be allowed to 
return to her family there. Last week, 
Los Angeles Times reported that the city's police union had called on 
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to prevent Ms. Olson from serving her 
supervised parole outside California.

Referring to Ms. Olson by original name, the head of the police 
union, Paul Weber, argued that the parole period should be seen as 
part of her punishment:

"The responsibility to ensure that Ms. Soliah follows each and every 
requirement of parole is one which should be undertaken by the state 
of California, not 'outsourced' to another state. Ms. Soliah should 
be allowed to travel to another state when she fulfills her 
obligations to California, and not a minute before."

A police union in Minnesota felt the same way, and the state's 
governor, Tim Pawlenty, <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29728323/>wrote 
to Gov. Schwarzenegger this week, asking him to block Ms. Olson from 
leaving California.

Ms. Olson's lawyer, David Nickerson, defended his client's request, 
The Associated Press:

"Everyone she knows is in Minnesota. The statute says she's to be 
paroled to the place where she has the best chance to succeed. That's 
where her family, friends and home are. She's served her time, she's 
paid her debt. Now they want to punish her some more. This is just 
being vindictive."

It is not yet clear whether Gov. Schwarzenegger will intervene after 
Ms. Olson is released today from the Central California Women's 
Facility in Chowchilla. On Monday, he seemed inclined to defer to the 
state corrections department, which has a program allowing prisoners 
to serve parole time in other states. "We kind of let them continue 
taking care of those issues, and they will find the right solutions 
for the problem," Mr. Schwarzenegger said.

Update | 12:26 p.m. A statement 
today on the Web site of the California Department of Corrections 
suggests that Ms. Olson will be allowed to serve her time on parole 
in Minnesota. The statement reads, in part:

Olson petitioned to have her parole supervision transferred to 
Minnesota upon completion of her sentence, so that she could be 
placed with her husband and family members. The California Department 
of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) approved the request. 
Studies have shown that family reunification is an evidence-based 
indicator of protecting the public by decreasing recidivism.

The statement also notes: "Olson's conditions of parole imposed by 
CDCR include prohibitions against association with former SLA members 
or co-defendants, and contact with any victims or their family members."

One sign that California's corrections department is not always on 
top of its game, though, is that a year ago the department 
Ms. Olson by mistake after miscalculating her parole date. She was 
with her family for five days before being taken back into custody.

The Symbionese Liberation Army radicals are remembered today mainly 
kidnapping of the heiress Patty Hearst, who then took part in a bank 
robbery by the group that was captured on security cameras.

In 2002, Chris Suellentrop, who is now an editor at The New York 
Times Magazine, asked and answered the question 
<http://www.slate.com/id/2061138/>What Is the Symbionese Liberation 
Army? for Slate's Explainer column. More information about the group, 
and a full archive of New York Times articles about their activites, 
is available on the 
Topics page on the Symbionese Liberation Army.

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