Lisa Kerr teaches courses on criminal law, evidence, sentencing and prison law and she serves as the Director of the Criminal Law Group at Queen's Law.
Professor Kerr earned her JD at the University of British Columbia. She clerked with the BC Court of Appeal and was an associate at Fasken Martineau. She also served as staff lawyer at Prisoners’ Legal Services, Canada’s only dedicated legal aid office for prisoners. Professor Kerr earned an LLM and JSD at New York University, where she was named a Trudeau Scholar.
Professor Kerr's research focuses on the law and policy of sentencing and prisons. Along with her academic publications, Professor Kerr regularly participates in judicial education and publishes opinion pieces in these areas. In 2017, she spoke with Michael Enright at The Sunday Edition about the central ideas animating much of her scholarship, namely the relationship between sentencing authorities and prison conditions.
Professor Kerr provides pro bono consultation on litigation matters in sentencing and prison law, and she supports the strategic litigation work of the Queen's Prison Law Clinic. For several years, she worked with Pivot Legal Society on a campaign to decriminalize sex work. She also served on the Board of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, where she supported work with the John Howard Society of Canada to abolish solitary confinement in Canadian prisons.
- “Dignity Cannot Be Totally Denied: The Limits of Bissonnette” (2022) 81 Criminal Reports (7th), 330–342
- “The Pains of Imprisonment in a Pandemic” (2021) 46 Queen’s Law Journal 2, 327–342 (with Kristy-Ann Dubé)
- "Adjudicating the Risks of Confinement: Bail and Sentencing During COVID-19" (2020) 64 Criminal Reports (7th), 311–333 (with Kristy-Ann Dubé)
- “Methods and Severity: The Two Tracks of Section 12” (2020) 94 S.C.L.R. (2d) 235 (co-authored with Benjamin Berger)
- “The End Stage of Solitary Confinement” (2019) 55 Criminal Reports (7th) 382.
- "How the Prison is a Black Box in Punishment Theory" (2019) University of Toronto Law Journal Vol. 69, Issue 1, 85-116
- "Sentencing Ashley Smith: How Prison Conditions Relate to the Aims of Punishment" (2017) Canadian Journal of Law and Society Vol. 32, No. 2, 187–207
- “The Legitimate Scope of Criminal Law: A Question for Legal History?” (2017) Critical Analysis of Law, Vol. 4, No. 1, 11–21
- "'They Want In': Sex Workers and Legitimacy Debates In the Law of Public Interest Standing" (2017) 80 Supreme Court Law Review (2d) 145–175
- “Judging a Joint Submission: Comparing the US and Canada on the Judicial Role in Plea Bargaining” (2017) 32 Criminal Reports (7th), 22–30
- “The Right to Maximum Prisoner Liberty?” (2016) 26 Criminal Reports 7th, 245–250
- “Easy Prisoner Cases” (2015) 71 Supreme Court Law Review (2d) 235-262
- "The Chronic Failure to Control Prisoner Isolation in US and Canadian Law” (2015) Queen's Law Journal, Vol. 40, No. 2, 483–530
- “The Origins of Unlawful Prison Policies” (2015) Canadian Journal of Human Rights, Vol. 4, No. 1, 91-119
- “Contesting Expertise in Prison Law” (2014) McGill Law Journal Vol. 60, No. 1, 43-94
Book Reviews and Review Essays
- “How to End Mass Imprisonment: the Legal and Cultural Strategies of Bryan Stevenson”(2017) University of Toronto Law Journal Vol. 67, 104-123
- “Choice Talk” review of Sister Wives, Surrogates and Sex Workers: Outlaws by Choice? by Angela Campbell (Ashgate Publishing, 2013) in (2017) Canadian Journal of Women and the Law Vol. 28, No. 3
- Review of Appealing to Justice: Prisoner Grievances, Rights and Carceral Logic by Kitty Calavita and Valerie Jenness (University of California Press, 2014) in British Journal of Criminology (2017)
- “How Sentencing Reform Movements Impact Women” in Julian Roberts and David Cole, eds, Sentencing in Canada: Essays in Law, Policy and Practice (Irwin Law Publishers, 2020).
- "Making Prisoner Rights Real: the Case of Mothers" in Sharon Dolovich and Alexandra Natapoff, eds, The New Criminal Justice Thinking (NYU Press, 2017)
- Saskatchewan stabbings: Why Myles Sanderson was granted statutory release from prison (The Conversation, September 2022)
- A return by Poilievre to Harper-era criminal sentences would be a terrible sequel (The Globe and Mail, Dec 2022)
- The Supreme Court’s ruling to end the death-in-prison penalty isn’t about the offender – it’s about our own moral code (Globe & Mail, May 27 2022)
- What Erin O’Toole is really saying when he says criminals shouldn’t get early access to vaccines (The Globe & Mail, 2021)
- Why Does the Indigenous Rate of Incarceration Only Grow? (Globe & Mail, January 2020)
- How can prisoners be rehabilitated without proper access to education? (with Paul Quick) (The Globe & Mail, January 2020)
- What happened to the Liberal promise of criminal justice reform? (with Anthony Doob) (The Ottawa Citizen, January 2020)
- Did the truck driver in the Humboldt crash deserve his sentence? (Globe and Mail, March 2019)
- Capay’s stay is one more unacceptable consequence of solitary confinement (The Globe & Mail, January 31, 2019)
- If Implemented Properly, new bill may end solitary confinement in Canada (The Globe & Mail, October 18, 2018)
- Yes, Law Schools Must Be Political (with Lisa Kelly) (The Globe & Mail, March 31, 2018)
- BC Solitary Ruling: A Bold Move that May Finally Bring Change (Globe & Mail, January 18 2018)
- Ontario solitary confinement ruling hardly counts as a victory (Globe & Mail, December 19 2017)
- Does the Law Apply when an Inmate Breaks Prison Rules? (Ottawa Citizen, December 11 2017)
- Solitary confinement: Bill C-56 not enough to eliminate risk of abuse (The Lawyer's Daily, July 12 2017)
- Solitary bill a first step, but doesn't go far enough (Globe & Mail, June 20 2017)
- Solitary confinement: Why is Ontario willing to do what Ottawa won’t? (Globe & Mail, May 8 2017)
- Why Rules on Solitary Confinement must be Written in Law (Globe & Mail, May 2 2016)
- Fewer inmates in solitary makes the case for reform (Globe & Mail, February 9 2016)
- The Conservative Take on Crime Policy (with Anthony N. Doob) (The Ottawa Citizen, August 20 2015)
- Court's use of remains did not respect Cindy Gladue's dignity (Toronto Star, April 6 2015)
- Solitary Confinement on Trial (The National Post, January 26 2015)
- Canada's law-and-order agenda weighs heavily on Aboriginal people (Toronto Star, March 12 2013)
- Mandatory Minimums for Drug Crimes have no Future in Canada (Toronto Star, June 3 2014)