Carol Higgins O'Brien is an Adjunct Faculty in the School of Criminology & Justice Studies at UMass Lowell

Carol Higgins O'Brien, M.A.

Adjunct Faculty


M.A., Criminal Justice, University of Massachusetts Lowell


Carol Higgins O’Brien was appointed Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Correction on September 10, 2014 by the Secretary of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) Andrea Cabral.

Carol career began as an entry level Corrections Counselor at MCI-Concord in 1984. She remained with the DOC for 15 years, served in three facilities and was promoted from Director of Programs to Director of Treatment to Deputy Superintendent. In 2000, she left the DOC to accept an appointment by Sheriff Frank Cousins to the position of Superintendent of the Essex County Correctional Facility, responsible for care, security and rehabilitation of over 1,100 inmates.

In 2002, she was appointed by former Governor Jane Swift to be Undersecretary of Criminal Justice in the EOPSS. Following the transition from the Swift to the Romney Administration, she returned to the Essex County Sheriff’s Office, where she managed three community corrections centers and oversaw inmate programs and education.

In July of 2011, newly appointed Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian recruited Carol as the Assistant Superintendent of Human Services to help advance the Department’s efforts to provide quality inmate programs and education.

Commissioner O’Brien holds a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from UMass-Lowell and is a graduate of the Kennedy School of Government Senior Executive Program at Harvard University. She is also an adjunct professor at UMass-Lowell in the Criminal Justice and Criminology Department where she teaches courses on violence in America, institutional corrections and community-based corrections and is also a member of the UMass Lowell Criminal Justice Alumni Advisory Board. She also serves on the Advisory Board for the Global Centre for Evidence-based Corrections and Sentencing at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia.