Thursday, June 28, 2012
CWL to Honor Prisoner Rights Lawyer With Stender Award
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Jane Kahn, a San Francisco lawyer long active in prisoner rights, issues, will be honored by California Women Lawyers with this year’s Fay Stender Award, the group said yesterday.
“You would be hard pressed to find anything more unpopular these days than the rights of prisoners,” CWL said in a release. “Who wants to think about what prisoners face once convicted? The overcrowded conditions, cages in hallways where prisoners are kept waiting for a bed; or suicide watch cells where patients (yes, patients) are forced to sleep naked on the floor.
“Well, thankfully someone does.”
Kahn will be honored for her work in Coleman v. Brown, a class action on behalf of 35,000 prisoners with mental illness that challenged California’s treatment of its mentally ill prisoner population as a violation of the Eighth Amendment, and for “her exemplary career as a public interest lawyer.”
The Stender award was established in 1982, two years after the death of Stender, a prisoner’s rights lawyer best known for her representation of imprisoned radical George Jackson and her publication of his letters in the book Soledad Brothers.
She was paralyzed from the waist down and suffered great pain as a result of a 1979 shooting by a recently paroled member of Jackson’s Black Guerilla Family, who accused her of having betrayed Jackson, who was shot to death during an escape attempt in 1971.
She committed suicide the year after being shot.
CWL gives the award each year “to a feminist attorney who, like Fay, is committed to the representation of women, disadvantaged groups and unpopular causes, and whose courage, zest for life and demonstrated ability to effect change as a single individual make her a role model for women attorneys,” yesterday’s release said.
CWL President Patricia Sturdevant said Kahn, “like Fay Stender, has fought tenaciously for the rights of prisoners for her entire career,” and had done so “in difficult settings and faced personal threats to her safety.”
She described Kahn as “unflappable and widely respected for her ability to effectively advocate for her clients,” adding that “she has mentored scores of young women lawyers to do the same.”
Kahn, formerly with the Prison Law Office, has been an attorney with the firm of Rosen, Bien & Galvan in San Francisco since 1997. Her educational background includes a bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University, an M.A. in sociology from Northwestern University, and a law degree from UC Berkeley.
Kahn said in a statement:
“I am very honored and humbled to receive this significant award from this great organization. The decision to recognize a prisoner civil rights lawyer is inspiring not only to me but to the many great women lawyers who do prison reform work. I’m proud to be part of such a dedicated and inspiring group of attorneys.”
The award is to be presented at CWL’s 38th Annual Dinner, held in conjunction with the State Bar Annual Meeting in Monterey in October.
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company