Convicted Domestic Terrorist Petitions for Drug Sentencing Reform

Sara Jane Olson

Sara Jane Olson, a former member of the Symbionese Liberation Army who was released from prison in 2009, has petitioned the White House to address “disparities in prison sentences for crack and powder cocaine,” according to the Associated Press. While these disparities were removed by Congress in 2010 for new cases, “more than 5,000 prisoners [are] still serving time longer than the new rules would require.” Olson and her neighbor who wrote the petition, Mary McLeod, allege that unequal sentencing for powder and crack cocaine are the result of racial stereotypes that equate powder cocaine with wealthy white people and crack cocaine with poor black people.

Olson pleaded guilty in 2001 for the attempted bombings of police cars in Los Angeles and participation in a bank robbery near Sacramento in which a woman was killed. Although the crimes took place in 1975, Olson, also known as Kathleen Soliah, was not apprehended until 1999. Her guilty plea came in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, for fear that she would not receive a fair trial.