Session One: Protecting Rights in the Pandemic Seminar Series

Protecting Rights in the Pandemic Seminar Series: Bail, Sentencing and Prisoners under COVID-19

Presented by the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law and the Transnational Criminal Law Group

Session 1: Bail, Sentencing and Prisoners under COVID-19

To view this past event, please click play on the video below:


In March 2020, the World Health Organisation declared the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic because of the severity of the disease, and how rapidly it has spread across the world. This declaration had significant repercussions internationally and domestically. Governments around the world proceeded to implement a number of restrictions in an attempt to ‘flatten the curve’; a concept aimed at limiting the spread of the virus. The imposition of these restrictions has had a substantial effect on the criminal justice system in general, and for prisoners and prisons management in particular.

In this seminar, Dr Natalia Antolak-Saper will consider the issue of COVID-19 in the context of decisions relating to remand – bail and sentencing; where the issue of the virus has been most pronounced. This will be followed by a presentation by Professors Lorana Bartels and Thalia Anthony who will discuss the challenges and lessons for prisons management from COVID-19.


Topic: Bail and Sentencing

Dr Natalia Antolak-Saper, Transnational Criminal Law Group, Monash Law

Natalia Antolak-Saper is a Lecturer in the Faculty of Law, Monash University. Natalia graduated from Monash University with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Criminology, and a Bachelor of Laws with First Class Honours. She completed her professional training with Lander & Rogers Lawyers, and was admitted to practice as a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Victoria and of the High Court of Australia.

In 2012 she received an Australian Postgraduate Award scholarship and commenced her PhD which examined the extent to which the media impacts upon sentencing policy. In 2017, she was a Visiting Scholar at the William and Mary Law School, Williamsburg, USA. She has published articles on diverse topics including directed verdicts, bail conditions, and gambling regulation. She teaches criminal law and trusts in the LLB and JD programs at Monash. Her research areas are in comparative criminal law and procedure with a particular focus on unrepresented accused, sentencing and the death penalty.


Topic: Prisoners

Professor Lorana Bartels, Criminology Program Leader, ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods

Dr Lorana Bartels’ expertise is in criminal law and criminology, especially sentencing, prison and the treatment of Indigenous peoples and women in the criminal justice system. She has undertaken projects on these issues for the Australian, ACT, Tasmanian and Victorian governments and Indigenous Justice Clearinghouse. She is the ACT representative on the After Prison Network and was previously Secretary of Prisoners Aid ACT. In March 2020, with Professor Anthony and others, Lorana penned two open letters to Australian governments, calling for the release of people in prisons and youth detention and safeguards to protect their human rights in the face of COVID-19.

Professor Thalia Anthony, Faculty of Law, University of Technology Sydney

Dr Thalia Anthony's expertise is in the areas of criminal law and procedure and Indigenous people and the law, with a particular specialisation in Indigenous rights and Indigenous community justice mechanisms.  Her research identifies the legacy of colonisation in the criminal justice system. She is undertaking several Australian Research Council projects relating to the criminal justice system, including on homelessness, sentencing Indigenous women, Aboriginal Community Justice Reports and Indigenous-designed safety strategies.  Her research is community-led and informed by fieldwork in Indigenous communities and partnerships with Indigenous legal organisations in Australia and overseas. In 2016, Thalia set up Sista2Sista – a support network for Aboriginal women in prison as part of a research project on criminal sentencing processes for Aboriginal women. Her leading research contribution is published in Indigenous People, Crime and Punishment (Routledge, 2013) and Decolonising Criminology (with Harry Blagg, Palgrave, 2019). In March 2020 with Professor Bartels, Thalia penned an open letter calling for the release of people in prisons and youth detention and safeguards to protect their human rights in the face of COVID-19.


Professor the Hon. Kevin Bell AM QC
Director of the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, Monash Law