Infamous former SLA member “accidentally” released from prison, back in custody

Earlier this week Sara Jane Olson was released from prison after serving only half of a 14 year sentence for attempting to blow up LAPD cruisers in the mid-1970s. At the time of the crime, Olson was better known under her birth name of Kathleen Soliah, a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army. The SLA the same group that had allegedly kidnapped and brainwashed Patty Hearst.

Olsen evaded capture, disappearing for nearly 30 years while living under the name Sara Jane Olsen in a Minnesota town. She got married, had kids, and to her neighbors was an everyday soccer mom until the Feds finally tracked her down and arrested her in 1999. She was convicted and sentenced to 14 years in prison.

On Monday, she was released. Almost immediately, the LAPD bawked. And then things became curious.

Last night, Olson was arrested at LAX as she was about to board a flight to her adopted home in Minnesota. The police said she was breaking terms of her parole. Her attorney says that her parole officer permitted her to travel to see her family.

Complicating matters, the Correction Department is now saying that her early release was actually an “administrative error,” and that she needs to remain in prison for another year.

Chief Deputy Secretary Scott Kernan said Saturday an outcry that followed Olson’s release spurred a thorough review of her parole and a 2004 miscalculation was discovered that resulted in her release a year too early. [LA Times]

Adminstrative error releasing a very high profile inmate? Or is the prison system bowing to pressure from the police? What do you think?

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

7 Replies to “Infamous former SLA member “accidentally” released from prison, back in custody”

  1. It was so many years ago and yes she did actually become a decent human while living undercover in “the cities”. However, others from less wealthy families have done lesser crimes and had to pay the price of longer incarceration. Fair is fair.

    I have no doubt the police union raised their hand and did a big “excuse me” as she was involved in a plot to take out officers. Again, others have had to do their full time, especially when they lacked the resources to lobby legally for early release, parole or probation.

  2. I’m taking a wait and see attitude on this. I’m really not buying the administrative error excuse, though – they has the six years while she was in prison to do the math right.

  3. Thats where I am, Marshall. I don’t think Olson is a threat to society, but I don’t necessarily think she’s paid her debt either. Regardless, it sounds like some shadiness behind the scenes, and if the parole board ruled in her favor, she should be released.

  4. The decency she assumed in life as a fugitive after her involvement with the SLA might show how little of a threat she poses in the present, but let’s not forget that she wasn’t only serving time for attempting to kill cops in Los Angeles, she also pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Myrna Opsahl during a bank robbery in 1975.

    As Opsahl’s son said, “This is a woman who was involved in multiple bombings, my mom’s murder and then was a fugitive for over 23 years.” That reality trumps any rose-coloring of what a nice lady she may be today.

  5. Will: Thats definitely a key aspect that I should have pointed out in my post.
    Still, my issue isn’t whether or not she deserved a harsh punishment, but whether or not she should be let out now, instead of rearresting her over a technicality. According to her parole officers, they’d know about her impending release for months.

  6. Somebody was watching while somebody else didn’t think they’d be noticed, thus the realease! Hands were slapped and she’s back behind bars. It’s so easy to forget the victim, especially if they’re dead. We relate to what’s in front of us and here’s a woman who obviously has turned her life around for the better.That doesn’t negate her actions from the past . You do the crime and you pay the time. As already mentioned,money and connections has a way of expediting the road to freedom. Ah, so much for ‘equal opportunity’….

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