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Parole debate clouds future of jailed Symbionese Liberation Army member

March 9, 2009 |  1:16 pm

The L.A. police union today called on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to oppose a bid by former Symbionese Liberation Army member Kathleen Soliah to serve her supervised parole in Minnesota.

She is expected to leave the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla later this month, where she was serving a sentence for attempting to kill two LAPD officers with pipe bombs in 1975. She wants to go back to Minnesota to be near her family.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union representing, 9,800 LAPD officers, argue that Soliah’s request should be denied because Minnesota does not share the same interest that California does in making sure she fulfills the obligations of her sentence.

Some legal experts questioned the union’s reasoning.

UC Irvine law professor Henry Weinstein said given prison overcrowding and the state’s budget woes, California should be happy if Minnesota was willing to take responsibility for Soliah. “Unless they can show some reason why Minnesota is not going to do a good job in supervising her, it strikes me as a bad argument,” Weinstein said. “This is not some Third World country. I don’t see what their argument is other than wanting their pound of flesh to keep her here.”

Last year, corrections officials cleared an out-of-state parole transfer for her to Minnesota. Soliah was released and met with her parole agent, who told her she was free to go to Minnesota and that her Minnesota parole agent was to contact her Los Angeles parole agent. But as she was preparing to board the plane home, she was detained by prison officials and taken to her mother's home in Palmdale.

It was there she was informed of a "computation error," in which it was discovered that she had another year to go on her state prison sentence. By going back to prison, Soliah needed to reprise her request. Both California and Minnesota corrections officials must approve the request, which is still under review.

If her bid is approved, Soliah would be one of more than 1,000 California offenders who are on parole supervision in other states.

-- Andrew Blankstein