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Joint Learning

Publication Date: 
March 02, 2011
The Stanford Daily
Yibai Shu

Stanford Law School students Maggie Filler '12 and Sara Mayeux '10 were featured in the following article by the Stanford Daily that traced the odd friendship between the two students and how it led to the creation of the Stanford Prison Forum. The Daily's Yibai Shu wrote:

You might call it serendipity in the law library.

Maggie Filler, LAW ’12, was studying in Stanford’s Law Library and thinking about the California prison system when she came across a student study area that was “overflowing with books about prisons.” Someone else was studying the same thing. The nametag on the pile of books read Sara Mayeux ’10.

“I thought, ‘Who is that Sara?’” Filler recalled with amusement. “We have to get together.”

Filler had coffee with Mayeux and found that they both agreed about several controversial prison issues. Many conversations later, the idea for the Stanford Prison Forum was born.


“We felt that although we had some classes at the Law School, the regular coursework failed to capture the systemic portion of prisons,” Filler said. “For example, how [they] operate, not just through legal pass-ways, but in terms of the various other systems…that create this massive system in the United States today, in California especially.”

The forum has been running a seminar at San Quentin prison since the beginning of the quarter. Every Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m., 10 Stanford students make the trek to the San Quentin prison to take a class together with 20 inmates who have earned associate degrees under the Prison University Project, a program that provides free higher education to inmates at San Quentin.