News Center

Elsewhere Online twitter Facebook SLS Blogs YouTube SLS Channel Linked In SLSNavigator SLS on Flickr

Stanford Students Lead Classes in San Quentin Prison

Publication Date: 
February 17, 2011
Stanford University News
Adam Gorlick

The Stanford Prison Forum, a student-run interdisciplinary workshop supported by the Criminal Justice Center, has been involved in teaching classes for inmates at San Quentin. The group's work is featured in the following news story written by Adam Gorlick of Stanford University News. Executive Director of the Criminal Justice Center Debbie Mukamal is also quoted in the article:

Trying to get a better understanding of California prisons, 10 Stanford students are teaching and learning with a group of 20 inmates at San Quentin. They're covering topics ranging from the history and culture of the state's prisons to the relevance of Franz Kafka's writings in the context of America's penal system.


When Philip Senegal considers the 21 years and seven months he's served in San Quentin since his murder conviction, he can't help but think his time behind bars will one day come to an end. Although his parole was recently denied, he's banking on another shot at freedom in seven years – the next time he'll be allowed to make his case to the parole board.

So he had a keen interest in the class he was taking on a recent Sunday – a discussion led by Stanford students on parole policies. Eager to talk about how state and federal judges have weighed in on the issue, he also wanted the students to walk away with an understanding of his personal experience.


Getting that inside perspective is at the heart of the Stanford Prison Forum, an interdisciplinary workshop organized by Stanford Law School students Sara Mayeux and Maggie Filler and supported by the Criminal Justice Center and the vice provost for graduate education.


"Studying with prisoners will undoubtedly shape how the Stanford students think about issues like our criminal justice system, race and poverty," said Debbie Mukamal, executive director of the Criminal Justice Center. "And experience shows that higher education transforms the lives of prisoners both while they're incarcerated and when they get released."