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Living down the past: Explaining a criminal record

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Author bio

A brief overview of the life of Paul Karsten Fauteck, Psy.D., DABPS

Escapee from a dysfunctional family? Dropout, juvenile delinquent, and gang member? Troublesome prisoner? A case history of successful prisoner re-entry? A common laborer struggling for respectability? A respected clinical and forensic psychologist? Actually, all of the above!

by Ralph M. Hahn

Fauteck was born outside Wichita, Kansas in 1935, the youngest of four with the closest being 12 years older. By his description he was labeled the family scapegoat virtually from birth. His public education ended at age 15 when he was caught going through wallets in the boys' locker room. He worked at numerous jobs and was frequently in trouble after that, including serving 60 days on a city prison farm for carrying a concealed weapon. At age 18 he was encouraged to go in the Army rather than face a burglary charge, and 11 months later received a "general discharge under honorable conditions." He impulsively married a young Mexican woman whom he barely knew, who turned out to be ineligible for a visa because of her own record. Fauteck and his mother smuggled her into the country. This came to light later, and both he and his mother were charged and received federal probation.

About a year after that he joined a group of men who were printing counterfeit cashier's checks on a non-existent bank, a federal crime for which Fauteck was eventually caught. He was sentenced for this and violation of probation, and spent his 21st through 24th birthdays in federal correctional institutions. Not a model prisoner, Fauteck was sent to solitary many times, but during his incarceration decided to turn his life around. That decision became more solid when, four months before his release, his father died. He was the one family member Fauteck could respect and felt close to.

After his release, he found what work he could, and eight months later a friend helped Fauteck, who spoke fluent Spanish, get a job writing and selling advertising for an English-Spanish radio station in south Texas. This paid very poorly but led to other jobs in broadcasting, including deejaying, and eventually advertising. He changed jobs many times, sometimes for a better position, but often out of restlessness or personality conflicts. For a period of time he even worked as a comic in a strip club. Eventually he moved to Chicago, and at age 33 was running his own small advertising agency. The agency didn't succeed, but by then Fauteck knew he wanted to do something else professionally. Having benefited from psychotherapy and being told by a psychologist friend that psychological tests showed he was more cut out for the helping professions than for advertising, he enrolled at Roosevelt University, continuing to work full time. Because of exceptionally high performance, he was allowed to place out of most undergraduate work on the basis of equivalency test scores. He received his masters in psychology in 1976.

Continuing to work part-time in advertising for the first few years, Fauteck helped build a successful therapy practice in a Chicago suburb. He then returned to graduate school and received the Doctor of Psychology Degree with honors in 1989. While working on the doctoral degree he took an interest in forensic psychology, and performed a diagnostic practicum in a support agency of the world's largest criminal court system. He took well to this work, since he understood criminal thinking well and was hard to deceive, so at the completion of his practicum he was offered and accepted a position as a staff psychologist. On receiving his Psy.D. he was advanced to senior staff psychologist, and worked in that agency a total of 13 years before retiring. In 1992 following a thorough U.S. Department of Justice investigation he was granted a presidential pardon.

Fauteck readily admits that in the early years, although he refrained from frankly criminal activity, he had difficulty shaping a respectable life. This was apparent in his spotty work history, but was even more pronounced in his love life. He didn't take well to monogamy, and didn't stay long with any partner at first. He did have a marriage that lasted 14 years before ending in 1978, and raised three of his own children and a stepdaughter. He now has a growing contingent of grandchildren. He married his present wife, Miriam, in 1983. According to Fauteck, the probability that he would ever end this marriage is zero. His wife, now retired, worked as a programmer-analyst in a major financial institution for twenty years.

Although he succeeded in staying out of jails and prisons from age 24 onward, Fauteck knows he could have become a "better citizen, sooner" if he had fully understood the transition he needed to make. But in 1959, criminal rehabilitation programs and prisoner re-entry support systems were even less plentiful than today. Realizing this helped lead him to write "Going Straight..." and to volunteer time to work with offenders.

Fauteck maintained a private clinical and forensic practice until December, 2006. He has volunteered to lecture offender groups, in or out of custody, for expenses only, time permitting. Although they spend considerable time in Chicago, he and his wife have as their primary residence a wooded acreage in southwest Michigan. They both volunteer time to political causes, especially those related to offender rehabilitation.
On his blogsite, ThusSayethMe.com, Fauteck writes about a variety of subjects, always striving to encourage dialogue rather than polarization, or, as he puts it, to build bridges rather than walls between people. Although he was not a serious sports fan for most of his life, in recent years both Fauteck and his wife have become avid followers of the Windy City Rollers, one of the top leagues in the Womens Flat Track Derby Association.

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