Prison Error Leads to Former Militant's Early Release

March 24, 2008 12:55 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Sara Jane Olson, terrorist turned housewife, served six years for murder and an attempted bombing. She was back in custody Saturday after a few hours’ freedom.

30-Second Summary

Sara Jane Olson, formerly known as Kathleen Soliah, was released from prison on Friday, a year earlier than the authorities intended. Olson had won a reduced sentence for good behavior. But the authorities never intended to reduce her 14-year sentence by so much.

The police rearrested her on Saturday, after it was discovered that she was on record as being sentenced to only 12 years. Her earliest release date is now March 17, 2009.

In the 1970s, Olson became involved with militant radical movement the Symbionese Liberation Army, a group mostly remembered for kidnapping newspaper heiress Patty Hearst in 1974.

Olson spent 24 years on the run after murdering suburban bank teller Myrna Opsahl in Sacramento, Calif., in 1975. She was put on trial in 2002 and imprisoned for second-degree murder and bank robbery

At the time of her release, CBS affiliate WCCO described the release as “surprised” and reported that the Los Angeles Police Detectives League disapproved. "She needs to serve her full time in prison for these crimes and does not deserve time-off for working in prison,” said Tim Sands, a spokesperson for the group.

Born in Fargo, N.D., and raised in California, Olson spent her time on the run in the Midwest, settling in Minneapolis in 1977, where she married a doctor and was active in community theater, church and in politics. She assumed the alias Sara Jane Olson, the surname being one of the most common in the local phone book.

A tip-off to the FBI following a profile on “America’s Most Wanted” led to her arrest in June 1999.

Headline Links: A day of freedom and back to jail for Olson

Background: The SLA and the Soliah trial

Key Players: Kathleen Soliah/Sara Jane Olson

Opinion & Analysis: ‘Soliah Sprung after Six Years’

Reference: Reformed rebels of the 1960s and 1970s

Related Topic: Patty Hearst


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