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's publications can be found here.

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.

Recent Publications


  • "Reconstructing Gladue" with Benjamin Ewing, University of Toronto Law Journal (2023) 
  • “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

  • Review of The Death Penalty and Sex Murder in Canadian History, by Carolyn Strange (Toronto:  University of Toronto Press, 2020) Law & Society Review, (2021)
  • “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)

Book Chapters

  • “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)