Karlene Faith

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Karlene Faith (1938-15 May 2017) was a Canadian writer, feminist, scholar, and human rights activist.[1] She is a professor emerita at the Simon Fraser University School of Criminology.[2] She died of an aortic aneurysm on 15 May 2017 in Vancouver, Canada.[3]

Early life and career[edit]

Karlene Faith was born in Aylsham, Saskatchewan in 1938. She is the oldest of six children and her father was a United Church Minister. After moving to a small town in Montana near a jail, Faith often witnessed police brutality. While working at a local radio station as a record librarian, she was given air play to read teletype news on the Korean War, the House Un-American Activities Committee, and other important events.

At 30 years old, Faith had worked in the United States, Germany, France, and Eritrea studying music, going to school, teaching, and working with the U.S. Peace Corps. In 1970 she earned her anthropology degree with Highest Honors at the University of California at Santa Cruz. She received a Danforth Fellowship to study for four more years at this same university, earning her PhD in 1981. She has co-hosted the radio show "Criminal Justice on Trial," taught with Dr. Rafael Guzman at Soledad men's prison, and completed groundbreaking research at the California Institution for Women. She also played a large role in developing the Santa Cruz Women's Prison Project in 1972.[1]


Karlene Faith "views violence against women and children as a universal social problem... she contends that these problems are socially learned and that the extent and distribution of them vary across different social groups and locations."[1] Faith plays a large role in both global and local pressing social issues, and as a teacher, she is "deeply committed to providing her students with an exciting and liberating pedagogical experience."[1]

Writing and awards[edit]

She has written many books on women and their incarceration. Her first book Unruly Women: The Politics of Confinement and Resistance was first published in 1993 through Press Gang and has been called "path breaking" because of its historical overview of draconian social control practices.[1] It went on to win the VanCity Book Prize in 1994.[4] A new edition of this book will be available through Seven Stories Press in July 2011.[5] In 1997, Faith wrote Madonna: Bawdy & Soul.[6] Later, in 2001, Northeastern University Press published Faith's book The Long Prison Journey of Leslie van Houten: Life Beyond the Cult.[7]

Faith was the recipient of the dean of arts medal for research, teaching, and service focus from Simon Fraser University in 2002.[8] In 2000 she received the International Helen prize for Humanitarian Works, and in 2001 she received a lifetime achievement award from the American Society for Criminology.[8]


  • Unruly Women: The Politics of Confinement & Resistance (Press Gang, 1st ed., 1993)
  • Seeking Shelter: A State of Battered Women (Collective Press, 1993) [1]
  • Madonna: Bawdy & Soul (University of Toronto Press, 1997) [2]
  • The Long Prison Journey of Leslie Van Houten: Life Beyond the Cult (Northeastern University Press, 2001) [3]
  • Unruly Women: The Politics of Confinement & Resistance (Seven Stories Press, 2nd ed., 2011) [4]


  1. ^ a b c d e DeKeseredy, Walter S. ""Taking a Position and Staying Grounded": A Biography of Karlene Faith." Women & Criminal Justice 12 (2000): 7–21.
  2. ^ Simon Fraser University School of Criminology. Retrieved 04-14-11.
  3. ^ "Karlene Faith obituary - BC Booklook". bcbooklook.com. Retrieved 12 August 2017. 
  4. ^ VanCity Book Prize. Retrieved 04-14-11.
  5. ^ "Seven Stories Press". sevenstories.com. Retrieved 12 August 2017. 
  6. ^ Amazon.com. Retrieved 04-14-11.
  7. ^ "University Press of New England - Redirect Page". www.upne.com. Retrieved 12 August 2017. 
  8. ^ a b Meadahl, Marianne. "Arts Medallists Rated Tops." Simon Fraser University News 19 September 2002. Print.