Sara Jane Olson: American Housewife, American Terrorist

Sara Jane Olson: American Housewife, American Terrorist

In one life, Sara Jane Olson was a doting, upper-class soccer mom who drove a Plymouth minivan and was a dynamite gourmet cook. In another, she was a terrorist—and a totem of the age of violent radicalism that erupted during the 1970s. Olson — nee Kathleen Ann Soliah, the infamous Symbionese Liberation Army fugitive — was released Tuesday from a California state prison, seven years after pleading guilty to participating in a deadly bank robbery and planting pipe bombs under police cars.

After a quarter-century on the lam, Olson’s imprisonment seemed to close a sordid chapter in the strange narrative of the SLA. But her early release from prison has resurrected a simmering debate: How should society treat a woman guilty of committing abhorrent crimes but who had seemingly transformed into a productive member of society?

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