California corrections authorities on Monday began investigating the premature release of former Symbionese Liberation Army member Sara Jane Olson, who was imprisoned for a murder committed by the radical group and attempted bombings of police cars in the 1970s.
State Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman Terry Thornton said the probe was being handled by the department's internal affairs division.
Olson, 61, was released March 17, a year early. She was intercepted at Los Angeles International Airport Friday night and returned to prison on Saturday.
In 2001, Olson pleaded guilty to attempted bombings of Los Angeles police cars in the 1970s. Two years later she pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the 1975 shooting death of a customer during a bank robbery carried out by the SLA in Carmichael, near Sacramento.
Olson was not captured until 1999. She had changed her name from Kathleen Soliah and eluded authorities for 25 years, married a doctor and raised three children in St. Paul, Minn.
State corrections officials blamed a clerical error that was caught after the Sacramento County district attorney's office, the news media and top aides to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger began questioning Olson's release.
"There is a full investigation under way to make sure this doesn't happen again in the future. If the investigation reveals any misconduct or polices weren't followed, we will hold those people accountable," said Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Lisa Page.
Much of the confusion over Olson's release was because her crimes date from the days when parole boards determined when an inmate was ready for release, corrections spokesman Bill Sessa said.
In 2002, a special board changed Olson's old open-ended prison sentence from Los Angeles County into a 14-year sentence to conform to current law. A judge later reduced that sentence to 12 years.
Olson subsequently was sentenced to a six-year, open-ended term under a plea agreement in Sacramento County for the killing during the bank robbery.
The parole board translated that sentence into an additional two years in prison, but it was erroneously entered into Olson's record as being served simultaneously with the prison term from the Los Angeles crime. It should have been entered as an additional two years, bringing Olson's total sentence for the two crimes to 14 years.
Prisoners typically serve about half their sentences. Olson served six years in prison, when she should have served seven, Sessa said.
"Somewhere along the way, it was overlooked that it was supposed to be consecutive," he said.