Former SLA Member Sara Jane Olson Released From Prison

The former Symbionese Liberation Army fugitive who hid for years by posing as an ordinary housewife has been released from prison after serving time for trying to bomb police cars, corrections officials said Thursday.

Sara Jane Olson, formerly known as Kathleen Soliah, walked out of the Central Women's Facility in Chowchilla on Monday, said Bill Sessa, a state Department of Corrections spokesman.

In 2001, Olson pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 14 years in prison for attempting to bomb police cars in 1975 with the SLA, the group best known for kidnapping newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst. Olson vanished soon after she was charged in the attempted bombings and reinvented herself as a Minnesota housewife.

Olson later pleaded guilty in 2003 to second-degree murder in the 1975 shooting death of a customer during a bank robbery in Carmichael, near Sacramento. She was serving a concurrent, six-year sentence in that case.

"Like all inmates in her circumstance, she earned time for her good behavior in prison, she wasn't treated any differently than anybody else," Sessa said. He declined to discuss terms of her parole, citing security concerns.

Olson's attorney, Shawn Chapman Holley, said her client was spending time with her family, who came to California to be with her. Olson still needed to work out the terms of her parole and whether she will be able to return to Minnesota, Holley said.

"Every time I've spoken with her, she just sounds happy and relieved, and happy to be with her family," Holley said.

Olson was caught in 1999 when her minivan was pulled over by police near her home in St. Paul, Minn. She had changed her name and was living with a husband and three school-age daughters.

After she was returned to California for trial, Olson pleaded guilty to the attempted bombings.

The union that represents Los Angeles police officers was dismayed her release.

"She needs to serve her full time in prison for these crimes and does not deserve time-off for working in prison," Los Angeles Police Protective League President Tim Sands said in a statement.