Chaz Arnett had some attractive options available to him after graduating from Harvard Law School. Rather than easing into his law career, Arnett opted for the crucible—trial attorney in the Orleans Public Defenders Office in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The decision is not surprising if you know Arnett, and it is rigorously in line with his longheld interests in criminal justice reform, which were forged by his observations of the Baltimore neighborhood where he grew up. “I saw how the criminal justice system, from a policing and corrections standpoint, had such a significant impact on my neighborhood. With the constant presence of law enforcement, it often felt as if we were sort of in occupied territory,” Arnett says.
Arnett’s experience has drawn him into an innovative area of study, the nexus of criminal justice, technology, and surveillance, and the impact these practices have on historically marginalized groups. His recent article, “From Decarceration to E-carceration” published in the Cardozo Law Review, explores the dangers presented by the use of electronic monitoring as an alternative to incarceration. Arnett’s work has been featured in The Crime Report, Jotwell, and Jurist, and discussed on the Criminal Injustice and Ipse Dixit podcasts. “I’ve been particularly interested in the ways that new technologies are working to deepen and entrench old legacies of racial injustice, with the complicity of law and policy,” he says.
“Chaz’s teaching and scholarly interests in electronic criminal justice surveillance, ever expanding forms of punishment and oversight, and developing legal arguments to challenge both the present and future of criminal punishment have garnered significant attention from students, scholars, and practicing lawyers,” says Prof. Michael Pinard, co-director of the Clinical Law Program. “His teaching and scholarship are vital in these urgent times. His voice, in the classroom and his scholarship will enrich our students, enhance the intellectual dynamism of our law school, and contribute mightily to justice.”
Arnett returned to Baltimore in 2012 to work as an attorney in the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, representing youth in the juvenile division for three years. Then, following a stint teaching at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, he came to Maryland Carey Law as a visiting professor, and was invited to stay on.
“At this historical moment when we are as a society confronting the deeply important issues of criminal justice and racial equality, we are incredibly fortunate to have Chaz Arnett joining our faculty,” says Dean Donald Tobin. “Our students and the Maryland Carey Law community will benefit greatly from his scholarship, and his selfless commitment in working for equal treatment under the law for all.”
This year, Arnett taps into his recent research to teach a seminar on Race, Technology, and the Law. “I’m excited about teaching the students here at Maryland,” Arnett says. “Part of the reason I went to law school was to be able to give back to people who grew up like me and had experiences like mine. There’s no better place to do that than where you’re from.”