- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 18, 2009

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. (AP) - Former 1970s radical Sara Jane Olson left California for her adopted home state of Minnesota on Wednesday, a day after she was paroled from state prison.

Her attorney, David Nickerson, said she boarded a flight from Sacramento and was scheduled to land in early evening. The 62-year-old Olson was paroled early Tuesday from the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, in California’s Central Valley.

She served half of a 14-year sentence after pleading guilty to participating in the deadly 1975 robbery of a Sacramento-area bank and helping place pipe bombs under Los Angeles Police Department patrol cars.

At the time, she was a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army, a violent group that sought to overthrow the government and was best known for kidnapping newspaper heiress Patty Hearst.

Olson left California the same day a Los Angeles police union asked Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to review whether it is legal for California to let Olson serve her parole in Minnesota.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League said in a statement Wednesday that she should not be allowed to go home given that she was a fugitive and not a legal resident of Minnesota at the time of her 1999 arrest.

The California penal code states parolees can be transferred to another state only if the offender was a legal resident of the other state prior to incarceration, the league said. The organization also questioned whether Olson’s release to Minnesota was in the public’s interest because her family there could be motivated to cover for her if she violates the terms of her parole.

The league wrote Schwarzenegger late Tuesday asking him to review the legality of the parole. Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Lisa Page said the letter had not yet been received.

California has more than 1,000 parolees living out of state.

Olson was named Kathleen Soliah in the 1970s when she was a member of the SLA. During her 24 years as a fugitive, she adopted the name Sara Jane Olson and became a Minnesota housewife, married a physician and raised three daughters. The police union and others still refer to her as Soliah.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty also has asked Schwarzenegger to ensure Olson stays in California.

In a response to Pawlenty that was released publicly Wednesday, Schwarzenegger said he decided not to override the decision by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Department officials found “it is in the best interest of the public that Ms. Soliah serve her parole in Minnesota,” Schwarzenegger said in a letter. He said studies have shown that reuniting families protects the public by reducing the chances ex-convicts will commit new crimes.

Schwarzenegger noted that the Minnesota Department of Corrections formally accepted her parole supervision on March 9.


Associated Press Writer Thomas Watkins in Los Angeles contributed to this story.

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