Michael P. Lawlor, J.D.

Michael Lawlor Headshot
Associate Professor

Criminal Justice Department
Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences

J.D., George Washington University

M.A., University of London

B.A., University of Connecticut

About Michael

Mike Lawlor is a nationally recognized expert on criminal justice reform which was a major focus of his 24 years as a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives and as former Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s undersecretary for criminal justice policy and planning in the Office of Policy and Management.

Elected to the Connecticut House of Representatives in 1986 representing East Haven’s 99th district, he chaired the House Judiciary Committee from 1995 to 2011, taking a leadership role in a wide variety of criminal justice reforms, including a law that established rights for crime victims.

He was a founding board member of the Council of State Governments Justice Center, and he’s served on numerous national criminal justice reform commissions. He also led the push for legislation that made Connecticut the second state in the nation to pass a law allowing same-sex couples to enter into civil unions.

As a member of Governor Malloy’s administration, Prof. Lawlor developed and implemented initiatives including juvenile justice, bail, and drug policy reforms; post Sandy Hook gun control legislation, and repeal of the death penalty, as well as initiatives that addressed racial disparities in the criminal justice system and mass incarceration.

Those initiatives helped lead to a 41 percent drop in arrests in the state from 2008 to 2017, a decrease in violent crime, and a 65 percent decrease – from 2009 to 2018 – of 18 year olds committing crimes, getting arrested and ending up in the prison system. The state’s prison population also decreased from 20,000 inmates in 2008 to 13,000 in 2019.

Prof. Lawlor current focus is on is researching, writing, and collaborating with students on policy reforms, including new criminal justice policies for adults ages 18 to 21; developing initiatives to help prosecutors categorize offenders; and creating new sanctions that could help lead low-level offenders away from further criminal activity.

In 2020, Mayor Justin Elicker appointed Prof. Lawlor to be a member of the New Haven Board of Police Commissioners. In 2021, Governor Ned Lamont appointed him to be a member of the statewide Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) Council.

Prof. Lawlor, who has been a faculty member at the University since 1995, teaches courses in criminal law and criminal procedure.

Prof. Lawlor received his J.D. from George Washington University, his M.A. in Soviet area studies from the University of London, and his B.A. in Slavic and Eastern European studies from the University of Connecticut. He also previously earned a Fulbright-Hays scholarship that enabled him to study in Hungary.

Courses Taught
  • CJST 1100 Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • CJST 1102 Criminal Law
  • CJST 2217 Criminal Procedure I
  • CJST 2218 Criminal Procedure II and Evidence
  • CJST 4400 Criminal Justice Capstone Seminar

Graduate Courses

  • CJST 6608 Law and Evidence
  • CJST 6637 Criminal Justice Policy
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