Sarah Jane Olson arrives back in Minn.by Jessica Mador, Minnesota Public Radio
Former 1970s radical Sara Jane Olson is back in Minnesota, after serving half of a 14 year sentence in California for her role in a 1975 deadly bank robbery.
Even though her prison sentence is complete, there's no indication the controversy that surrounds her has ended.
St. Paul, Minn — Sara Jane Olson's flight landed at Twin Cities International Airport around 7 p.m. last night. While she eluded a scrum of reporters waiting for her in the baggage claim area, her arrival did not escape the notice of some passengers who were picking up bags and waiting for rides.
Outside the Lindbergh terminal, Liz Pierson was skeptical that Olson should be allowed to come back to serve her parole in Minnesota.
"She got to live a happy free life for 20, however many years. What about the victims' families," asked Pierson.
Olson was convicted and sentenced in California for her part in a 1975 bank robbery that resulted in the killing of a customer. She also pled guilty to trying to bomb Los Angles police cars.
She was mistakenly released by California officials a year ago, only to be rearrested and locked up for another year.
Jeff Baumbach from Edina says Olson should be treated like any other prisoner and be allowed back.
"She did the time that was prescribed by law. I don't know how much more anybody can ask," said Baumbach.
That wasn't good enough for the Los Angeles Police Protective League. The police union has vocally objected to Olson's departure for Minnesota.
The St. Paul police union, Gov. Tim Pawlenty and some Republican lawmakers agreed with the Los Angles police union. And yesterday the LA Police union sent a letter to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that challenged the legality of the decision to release Olson to Minnesota.
Union President Paul Weber says Olson was a fugitive and not legally a resident of Minnesota when she was arrested, and therefore she can't be paroled in the state.
"She has just been allowed to go to Minnesota," said Weber. "If, in fact, they determine that she doesn't meet the minimum requirements as we are alleging, then they should terminate that program and bring her back here to California to serve out the remainder of her parole."
They are demanding that she be kept in California. But Gov. Schwarzenegger has said that he was satisfied that Olson was qualified for transfer.
So, at this point the 62-year-old Olson will serve a one year parole in Minnesota to finish out her sentence.
Olson, who was born Kathleen Soliah, joined the Symbionese Liberation Army, a radical group notorious for kidnapping newspaper heiress Patty Hearst in the 1970s.
After the 1975 bank robbery, Olson went into hiding for more than two decades.
She lived a quiet life in St Paul and raised three daughters, until her discovery and arrest several years ago.
Her Highland Park neighborhood was quiet Wednesday night. A group of television trucks idled in front of Olson's dark house, waiting for her to arrive home.
Neighbors in surrounding houses declined to speak to Minnesota Public Radio.
But Geoff Taylor, who lives a block away, says he hopes Olson will blend back into St. Paul and lead a normal life.
"She has a right to live in the country, as United States citizen," he said. "She's done her time, and it's very sad, the whole thing. You can't blame the family whose dad was murdered."
Finally, the Olson family arrived home, entering through the back.
"The family has nothing to say. Thank you," a family representative said through a crack in the front door.
Olson has 24 hours from her arrival to check in with Minnesota corrections officials to go over the terms of her parole.
- Morning Edition, 03/19/2009, 6:50 a.m.