Chaz P. Arnett


The following is a lightly edited transcript of comments provided at the Journal of Health Care Law & Policy’s Spring Symposium entitled “Uneasy Alignments: The Mental Health Turn in The American Legal System.” This event was hosted on March 16, 2023, by University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law in collaboration with the University of Maryland School of Social Work’s Daniel Thursz Social Justice Lecture Series. The Symposium examined how legal systems, like child welfare and juvenile law institutions, use coercion to force engagement or compliance with often unproven therapeutic interventions. The presentation took on the question of how the negative impacts of this turn manifest in the home. The lecture centers on the use of digital surveillance technologies, like electronic ankle monitors, by juvenile courts as presumed rehabilitative tools and alternatives to incarceration. It argues that not only is electronic monitoring ineffective as a therapeutic intervention toward adequate adolescent development, but also it leads to a marginalization that severs youth from the community ties necessary for growth. The lecture concludes that a critical race and technology approach is useful for understanding how this practice feeds an expanding data economy that exploits poor families of color under the premise of contributing to public health and public safety.

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