Meet our JSD Students and Candidates

Lisa Coleen Kerr

Dissertation Title: The Terms of Imprisonment: How Legal Systems Perceive and Govern the Quality of Punishment

Doctoral Supervisor: Professor David Garland


Lisa Coleen Kerr is a JSD candidate at New York University School of Law, a Doctoral Fellow with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and a 2012 Trudeau Foundation Scholar. Lisa graduated from the law faculty of the University of British Columbia in 2005, having previously graduated from Simon Fraser University with a BA in English Literature. After law school, she completed a clerkship at the British Columbia Court of Appeal and joined the litigation group of a national law firm in Vancouver. She has practiced in the areas of commercial litigation and insolvency and restructuring. In 2009 she completed an LLM at NYU, where she discovered the field of punishment studies. Lisa returned to practice in Canada as staff lawyer at Prisoners' Legal Services, pursuing strategic litigation on human rights issues in provincial and federal prisons. Lisa continues to work with the BC Civil Liberties Association, attempting to reform laws that permit indefinite solitary confinement in Canadian prisons. Lisa also serves on a litigation committee of Pivot Legal Society, in pursuit of the decriminalization of sex work in Canada.


Lisa studies the law of punishment, which spans sentencing, human rights, constitutional, administrative and prison law. Lisa's research builds upon a core insight about the modern prison, which is that a prison sentence entails a qualitative dimension that is not adequately controlled by law. Her doctoral project compares how legal systems, particularly in the United States and Canada, attempt to regulate their prisons and control the terms of punishment delivered there.

Lisa's Bookshelf