Soliah: The Sara Jane Olson Story

Sara Jane Olson
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Olson returned to Minnesota after her parole from a California prison, and lives with her husband in the same St. Paul home where she was arrested in Once known as Kathleen Soliah, Olson spent 25 years as a fugitive after joining the short-lived Symbionese Liberation Army, the small group best known for the kidnapping of California heiress Patty Hearst.

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Writer Hendry revisits the emotional tensions that surrounded the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement, the Kennedy and King assassinations, and the radical culture of the 60's and 70's. FB Twitter ellipsis More. Now, Olson has returned to activism and - along with friend and next-door neighbor, Mary McLeod - filed a White House petition Thursday asking the president to exercise executive clemency for prisoners serving time under now-discarded sentencing guidelines for crack cocaine. It's a small world indeed. I also find it amazing that this Sara Jane Olson woman could be on the lam for more than 20 years, marry a doctor, raise three kids, work as an actress and community activist in the upper mid west and somehow remain under the radar of the Feds. Add to Wants.

Captured in , Olson finally pleaded guilty to helping place pipe bombs under Los Angeles police cars and participating in a bank robbery near Sacramento in which a woman was killed. Deeply private since her release, Olson said she decided to talk to The Associated Press because of strong convictions about her new crusade, which she said is motivated in part by her own time in prison. Olson and her friend and next-door neighbor, Mary McLeod, filed the White House petition Thursday asking the president to exercise executive clemency for prisoners serving time under now-discarded sentencing guidelines for crack cocaine.

In , Congress cut those sentences to align more closely with those for powder cocaine, but that only applied to new sentences going forward.

SLA's Sarah Jane Olson Released from Prison

The women's petition says that left more than 5, prisoners still serving time longer than the new rules would require. The petition was McLeod's idea, and one of Olson's adult daughters is helping. The interview occurred in McLeod's living room; Olson, now 66, looks fit, with long white hair and a deeply lined face.

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Sara Jane Olson was a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) in the s. .. Hendry, Sharon Darby (). Soliah: The Sara Jane Olson Story. Soliah: The Sara Jane Olson Story [Sharon Hendry] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. How had an idealistic young woman become.

She is quick with statistics and opinions about the cause. She and McLeod, as many critics have done, said the differences in crack and powder cocaine sentences stem from stereotypes of crack as a drug for poor black people while powder cocaine is for rich white people. In the petition, the women ask the White House to establish a panel to review individual cases of the prisoners in question, and then make recommendations to President Barack Obama about which of them deserve to be released.

That would mimic the process by which President Gerald Ford commuted sentences of large numbers of Vietnam draft evaders. Anyone can file a petition to the White House, but it requires , signatures in 30 days to trigger an actual White House review.

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And that's no guarantee of action, either. Olson and McLeod are trying to circulate it widely in activist circles, and have posted it on Change. You'd think after her experience with the criminal justice system, she'd run in the other direction," said Laurie Levenson, a Loyola Law School professor who followed Olson's case and is also acquainted with the sentencing disparity issue. Visit Seller's Storefront. We strive to give you as much information as possible about our books. We will gladly accept returns if the condition is not as described.

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Items paid for by Money Order and Checks will be shipped as soon as payment clears. Shipping costs are based on books weighing 2. If your book order is heavy or oversized, we may contact you to let you know extra shipping is required. List this Seller's Books. Payment Methods accepted by seller. AbeBooks Bookseller Since: 09 August Soliah went underground and became a fugitive for 23 years. She moved to Minnesota , having assumed the alias Sara Jane Olson; the surname chosen being one of the most common names in Minnesota due to the state's large Scandinavian-American population.

Olson and Peterson spent time in Zimbabwe , where Peterson worked for a British Medical missionary group, before settling in Saint Paul, Minnesota , where Olson resumed her acting career. After a tip generated by the show, she was arrested on June 16, Soliah was then charged with conspiracy to commit murder, possession of explosives, explosion, and attempt to ignite an explosive with intent to murder.

Shortly after her arrest, Soliah legally changed her name to her alias, Sara Jane Olson. Immediately after entering the plea, however, Olson told reporters that she was innocent and that she had decided to take a plea bargain due to the climate after the September 11 attacks , in which she felt an accused bomber could not receive a fair trial from a jury. Angered by Olson's announcement that she had lied in court, Superior Court Judge Larry Fidler ordered another hearing on November 6, at which he asked her several times if she was indeed guilty of the charges.

Olson replied "I want to make it clear, Your Honor, that I did not make that bomb. I did not possess that bomb. I did not plant that bomb. But under the concept of aiding and abetting, I plead guilty. On November 13, Olson filed a motion requesting to withdraw her guilty plea and acknowledged that she did not misunderstand the judge when he read the charges against her.

Rather, she said:.

I realize I cannot plead guilty when I know I am not. Cowardice prevented me from doing what I knew I should: Throw caution aside and move forward to trial. I am not second-guessing my decision as much as I have found the courage to take what I know is the honest course. Please, Judge Fidler, grant my request to go to trial.

Hidden in Plain Sight

On December 3, , Fidler offered to let Olson testify under oath about her role in the case. She refused. He then wondered "I took those pleas twice Observers expected her to serve only three to five years, but on January 18, , she was sentenced to two consecutive years-to-life terms. At her sentencing hearing, Olson's teenage daughter Leila, her pastor, and her husband spoke in her defense, while Olson's mother claimed on the stand that Olson had never been a part of the SLA and spoke against prosecutors and police she asserted had harassed the family.

The state Board of Prison Terms had scrapped her original sentence in October in exchange for a longer year sentence, saying Olson's crimes had the potential for great violence and targeted multiple victims. In July , a judge said there was "no analysis" of how the state Board of Prison Terms had decided 14 years was appropriate, and threw it out. Her sentence was instead converted to five years, four months. It ruled that a lower court did not follow procedure when they allowed Olson to appeal. Her custody status was "Close A", [29] which is reserved for inmates requiring the most supervision.

This status limited her privileges and required that she be counted seven times a day. It also prevented her from being able to seek a relocation to a facility closer to her home.

Video: Ex-radical Sara Jane Olson takes on new cause

David Nickerson, Olson's attorney, stated that this status reflected the Department of Corrections' view that she was a potential flight risk. Olson's husband and three daughters continued to support her during her imprisonment and took turns visiting her frequently in Chowchilla. It was kind of normal. She was an urban guerrilla.