Since Sara Jane Olson was released from a California prison four years ago, she's lived a relatively private life in her St. Paul neighborhood.
Olson served seven years in prison for her involvement with the Symbionese Liberation Army in the 1970s -- a radical group best known for kidnapping Patty Hearst. Now she's moving back into public life by petitioning the Obama administration to reduce disparities in prison sentences for crack and powder cocaine.
Olson and her friend and next-door neighbor, Mary McLeod, filed the White House petition last week, asking the president to exercise executive clemency for prisoners serving time under now-discarded sentencing guidelines for crack cocaine.
In 2010, Congress cut those sentences to align more closely with those for powder cocaine, but that only applied to new sentences going forward. The women's petition says that left more than 5,000 prisoners still serving time longer than the new rules would require.
Olson and McLeod, as many critics have done, said the differences in crack and powder cocaine sentences stem from stereotypes of crack as a drug for poor black people while powder cocaine is for rich white people.
Trisha Volpe, who reports for MPR News and KARE 11, talked to Olson and McLeod about why they wanted to take on this issue.
Olson, who was once known as Kathleen Soliah, lived as a fugitive from the mid-'70s until her arrest in 1999. Before her arrest, she had lived a quiet life in St. Paul. She was known among Twin Cities' liberal activists and was a sometime actress in local theater.
She was guarded as she spoke about her life on the run.
Olson also talked about living with a criminal record.
Since her release from prison, Olson said she has become very involved in prison issues, and volunteers for Women Prison Book Project and other groups. She is also studying public policy and sociology.
The Associated Press contributed to this report