A California sentencing panel took one year off the prison term of Sara Jane Olson, the former 1970s radical who hid from prosecution for decades as a St. Paul housewife, reports the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The state’s Board of Prison Terms, relying on laws from the 1970s, set her sentence for planting pipe bombs under police cars to 13 years, a reduction from the 14 years a previous board gave her. “She’s going to be serving significant time in a state prison, which we feel is appropriate in this case,” said Los Angeles County District Attorney spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons.
At a hearing yesterday, intended targets of the planted pipe bombs told how close they came to disaster that day. Authorities have said the trigger on one bomb was within a fraction of an inch of setting off one of the largest pipe bombs ever recovered in Los Angeles. Retired L.A. police officer Marty Feinmark waved newspaper photos of children killed in the recent Russian school terrorist attack and told the three panel members, “It could have been a ’60s thing to do, but that’s the end result.” The 57-year-old Olson, who then went by her birth name of Kathleen Soliah, was a key part of the Symbionese Liberation Army, accused of a violent crime spree in California in the 1970s. In stiffening Olson’s sentence two years ago, the prison board used a seldom-used section of state law, allowing it to recalculate sentences for old crimes in light of new, tougher sentencing guidelines.