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This Day in History — Patty Hearst is Released From Prison

Patty Hearst Released From Prison

On February 1,1979 Patty Hearst — a young woman made famous after being brainwashed by her kidnappers and robbing a bank — was released from prison after serving 22 months for robbing a bank with her captors.

Patricia Campbell Hearst (now 58) was an American socialite, actress, and newspaper heiress who was kidnapped from her own apartment by the Symbionese Liberation Army. The SLA’s motive was to exchange Hearst for jailed SLA members, but when that didn’t work, they made another demand that Hearst’s family distribute $70 worth of food to every person in need in the state of California. Hearst’s family compromised by immediately donating $6 million worth of goods to the homeless in the Bay Area, but the SLA was not satisfied with the quality and did not return their daughter.

Two months later, Hearst released a statement that she had joined the SLA, and was later arrested for taking part in a bank heist. SHe was sentenced to seven years, but was released after 22 months after President Carter commuted the sentence.

She was later given a full pardon by President Clinton, which was his last act before leaving office. Patty’s story is an oft cited example of Stockholm Syndrome — where captives develop feelings of sympathy and love for those who took them hostage, sometimes to the point of defending them.

After being released from prison, Hearst married her former bodyguard. She has appeared in several films, including ‘Bio-Dome,’ (what!) and appears in one episode of Nickelodeon’s ‘The Adventures of Pete &Pete,’ where she plays Mrs. Kretchmar, the nicest housewife in the world.

Next: Yesterday in History -- First VD Clinic Opens

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