It is with great sadness that we report that our beloved friend and colleague Jane Kahn passed away on December 26, 2018.
Jane died in her sleep of glioblastoma brain cancer at home with her family. She was 64 years old. Born in November 1954, in St. Louis, Missouri, Jane received her Bachelor’s from Brandeis College, her Master’s in sociology from Northwestern, and her law degree from University of California, Berkeley. She was a fighter, shoving her shoulder into the immovable force that is the prison system and homelessness, and always leaping to defend those she loved. With that same vigor, she fought her disease, showing bravery and strength until her last day.
Jane was a mother of three boys and spent all of her adult years happily married to the love of her life, Michael Bien. She worked tirelessly on behalf of California’s prisoners, advocating for the civil rights of incarcerated persons with mental illnesses and other disabilities for decades. She believed that being incarcerated or without a home did not make a person less than human; she recognized the humanity of all around her for every one of her 64 years.
Jane was passionate about her work, believing she could truly change the systemic injustices she saw each day. But focusing solely on her work would be a disservice. She was a mother, an aunt, a daughter, a sister, and a devoted friend. She was blessed with a beautiful brain that allowed her to know what those around her were feeling and anticipate that which had gone unasked. Until the end, she took care of her enormous circle of loved ones. She wanted to make everyone ready for the moment that she’d be gone; she, herself, was unafraid.
Jane was preceded in death by her parents, Bill and Shirlee Kahn, and her brothers-in-law Michael Kalnitz and Jon Bien. She is survived by her sisters, Debi and Julie, her brother, Michael, her sons, Ben, Max, and Joey, and her daughters, Katy and Allison.
A memorial service was held at Sinai Memorial Chapel, Friday, December 28 at 2:00pm. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Prison University Project, Hamilton Families, or a charity of your choosing. Jane believed in the power of giving and the power of good people to change the world. She would have been honored if you would do the same.
— Contributed by Joey Bien-Kahn
Leading prisoners’ rights advocate Jane Kahn ’83 dies at 64, Berkeley Law Alumni News, January 10, 2019
Jane Kahn, 64, humanitarian and fighter for the underdog, Jewish News of Northern California, January 8, 2019
Jane Kahn, SF attorney who helped reshape prison conditions dies, San Francisco Chronicle, December 30, 2018
Jane Kahn, 1954-2018 – A Rosen Bien attorney is remembered for her passion about prisoners’ rights, Daily Journal, December 31, 2018