Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sara Jane Olson Released to Parole

Request to Serve Parole Supervision in Minnesota Approved

CHOWCHILLA — Central California Women’s Facility inmate Sara Jane Olson, a former member of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), was released to parole on Tuesday, March 17, 2009.

Olson, also known as Kathleen Soliah, was convicted in Los Angeles County for a 1975 attempt to explode a destructive device with the intent to commit murder. She also served a Sacramento County conviction for second-degree murder for the 1975 death of Myrna Opsahl, who was shot by an SLA member during a bank robbery.

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.

Olson’s transfer is consistent with the Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision, which permits offenders who meet the mandatory criteria to be supervised on parole in another state. One of the criteria is that the offender must have been a resident of the other state for at least one continuous year and have resident family in the other state that have indicated a willingness and ability to assist in the plan of supervision. There are currently 1,454 out of state parolees under supervision in California, and 1,043 California parolees under supervision in other states under this compact, which has been in place since 1937.

Consistent with applicable state law in effect when she was convicted, Olson will serve one year on parole supervision. During that time she must comply with conditions of parole imposed by both California and Minnesota. 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.

BACKGROUND: Olson began serving her prison sentence in 2001 after being returned to California following 24 years of living in Minnesota under an assumed name. She served a seven-year prison sentence. She was initially paroled to the Antelope Valley region of Los Angeles County, her last legal residence in California, on March 17, 2008. She was initially approved to be supervised on parole in Minnesota, until legal questions were raised about her sentence calculation. CDCR conducted an analysis of Olson’s records and sentencing transcripts and it was revealed that she was required to serve additional time for her Sacramento County conviction. Olson was taken back into custody on March 22, 2008, and her release date was recalculated for March 17, 2009.