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Clinton Correctional Facility & Panopticons

Per the NYT, June 29, 2015┬ácertified fraud examiners and auditors, among others, will assist the F.B.I. in examining the Facility for evidence of potential corruption. Clearly, the Facility would fall short of Foucalt’s idea of effective modern disciplinary power and Bentham’s idea of a highly effective panopticon. In brief, the inspection house was intentionally compromised.

Records of who observed what and interviews of suspects, witnesses, and others will likely lead to the development of an official conspiracy theory to be subject to the rigors of judicial management or plea agreement. Potential remedies will likely include reforms that depend less on manual operations (e.g., physical inspections by guards) and more on automated controls (e.g., extensions of digital audio-visual surveillance of inmates). This is the modern pattern of breach and reformation of controls. Collusion is usually necessary because most existing control systems aim to ‘force a conspiracy’ and not allow any one individual sufficient discretion to pull a fast one, and upon discovery of such illicit cooperation control system designers are called in and seek to replace individuals of uncertain and inconstant integrity with machines that cannot be bribed or receive kickbacks.

Whatever the downsides of such primarily automated control systems (e.g., deskilled and demotivated monitors of machines), the panopticons erected through the decade-upon-decade unfolding of the industrial revolution will leave in their wake for posterity fascinating stories of and data about the human condition, potentially including empirical evidence of a direct relationship between the reach of control systems and their breach by conspirators. However, I’ve heard that one’s reach should exceed one’s grasp.

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