LOS ANGELES -- Marilyn Hartman, the notorious stowaway arrested seven times at San Francisco International Airport before successfully hopping a flight in San Jose on Aug. 4, was released Saturday from a Los Angeles County jail after serving only three days of her 117-day sentence, officials said.
The 62-year-old woman authorities say has a "fixation with flying" was released at 6:13 p.m. from Lynwood's Century Regional Detention Facility due to overcrowding, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Amber Smith. The woman had only been in custody since 11:16 a.m. Wednesday.
Authorities added that Hartman, who received a near four-month sentence Wednesday morning for returning to Los Angeles International Airport and thereby violating the terms of her probation, qualified for a state program that credits nonviolent, misdemeanor offenders for various circumstances, including good behavior.
It was not immediately known where Hartman went after she was released from jail Saturday evening. Earlier she told reporters she had only $4.25 in "piggy-bank" change, and does not appear to have any family to assist her.
Despite landing in jail multiple times on varying bail difficulties, Hartman continues to be released from custody without ever having to post bail. She was unable to post even $500 bail when she was held on trespassing charges after stowing away from San Jose, and was released immediately after pleading no contest in court.
'She needs help'
Some Bay Area residents remained astonished by the relative flexibility of Hartman's consequences, but also by how quickly she is "forgotten" after officials allow her to roam free. While felony offenders sometimes receive help with reintegration upon their release from prison, no such programs exist at Hartman's level.
"How is she supposed to get back to the Bay Area?" San Jose resident Karen Sandoval Luster asked. "Is she supposed to wander around Southern California now?"
"The woman doesn't need jail," San Jose photographer Dave Burckhard said. "She needs help."
But Hartman has not always responded well to opportunities for mental health treatment, as evidenced by the brevity of her stay in a San Mateo County treatment center. Although she did not necessarily meet the criteria for the Pathways Mental Health Program, San Mateo County authorities still made the decision to send Hartman there instead of jail to serve time for her first seven offenses, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.
Wagstaffe said it was important to officials that Hartman, who has been homeless since February, have both a place to live and access to some services.
"She lasted about a week in the program," said Wagstaffe, who noted that she was uncooperative with both facilitators and her probation officer during her time at the treatment facility. "She walked away from it, saying she didn't like it. Then she went right back to the airport."
Los Angeles airport Police Chief Patrick Gannon said he had a feeling the woman with "a fixation with flying" would return to the airport, so police passed out fliers to airport workers bearing her photograph.
Though Hartman said she "made a mistake" when she sneaked past airport security and onto the Southwest flight in San Jose, Gannon noted that she returned to LAX on a shuttle bus three days later and wandered through several pre-security terminals.
"It's kind of like a revolving door for her," said Deputy Sherriff Smith, who said Hartman had so far not returned to the airport within the 24 hours after her release. "For her, she has nowhere to go, no family around -- what does she have to lose, really?"
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