updated 3/16/2009 9:00:11 PM ET 2009-03-17T01:00:11

Gov. Tim Pawlenty sent a letter Monday to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger asking him to prevent former 1970s radical and longtime fugitive Sara Jane Olson from returning to Minnesota to serve her parole.

Pawlenty urged Schwarzenegger, a fellow Republican, to consider the requests of the St. Paul Police Federation, the Los Angeles Police Protective League and the Los Angeles City Council to keep Olson in California after her release from prison Tuesday.

Olson, a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army once known as Kathleen Soliah, has been serving time in California for her role in the attempted pipe-bombings of Los Angeles police officers and a fatal bank robbery near Sacramento in the 1970s.

She was arrested in 1999 after eluding law enforcement for more than two decades, during which she had married and raised a family in St. Paul, acted in community theater productions and did charity work.

The SLA — the urban guerrilla group most notorious for its kidnapping of newspaper heiress Patty Hearst — had a long list of high-profile crimes during the mid-1970s, including the assassination of an Oakland schools superintendent and the shotgun slaying of Myrna Opsahl, a 42-year-old mother of four who was depositing a church collection at a bank near Sacramento when the group robbed it. Olson was in the bank during that 1975 heist, which netted the SLA $15,000.

On Monday, Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Lisa Page said she did not know whether the governor would try to intervene in the parole process.

"We received it and we will respond. But we just got it," she said, referring to Pawlenty's letter. "At this point, the California Department of Corrections is following its normal process and no decision has been made. But a decision will be made before her release tomorrow."

One of Olson's attorneys noted that corrections officials in Minnesota have said Olson can serve her parole there if California officials decide to send her home.

"Why is the governor of Minnesota writing to the governor of California? Why doesn't he just deal with the people in Minnesota?" said her attorney, David Nickerson.

"Everyone she knows is in Minnesota. The statute says she's to be paroled to the place where she has the best chance to succeed. That's where her family, friends and home are. She's served her time, she's paid her debt. Now they want to punish her some more. This is just being vindictive."

The police organizations, both of which have also made written requests to Schwarzenegger, had both opposed Olson spending her parole in Minnesota as she wishes. The groups say she should serve her sentence in the state where she committed the crimes.

If Olson's release goes as planned, her attorneys say, she will be paroled to her mother's house in California and will have 24 hours to report to her parole agent. The attorneys say that unless there is a change, she then will be allowed to return to St. Paul, Minnesota, where she changed her name and married Dr. Gerald "Fred" Peterson.

The Schwarzenegger administration has referred inquiries about Olson to the California corrections department, which says it has made no decision about the terms of her parole.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments