Austin Mobley Dr. Neely McLaughlin



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Austin


Austin Mobley

Dr. Neely McLaughlin

English 1001

9/16/2016

Panopticism in our Daily Lives

In the world that all of us live in today there is almost nowhere to go to escape from cameras or other things used for surveillance. Ever since the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001, a little over fifteen years ago, surveillance methods have become more and more common in everyone’s day to day life. After years of living with twenty-four hours a day seven days a week surveillance of our lives, many people take the side that says it is great and needed in the world today. While there are also many people in the world that believe that surveillance is terrible for all of us. This surveillance helps to reduce crime all over and helps to do other things like keep control of prisoners in our prison system. My goal for this essay is to prove to everyone that surveillance in our lives is needed and it is a great thing to have to protect us and keep criminals in line.

To prove my point that surveillance being everywhere in our day to day lives is both something that we really need and a great thing for the whole world to have and use, I plan to use many different resources to get facts that may get people to begin to see it as a good thing. I also plan on using real life examples of how this surveillance has impacted American lives in a good way and how it will continue to help us as we continue to allow this surveillance. Cameras all over America help us to reduce criminals from committing crimes, it helps us to catch criminals that commit crimes anyways just hoping that they will get away with it easily, and I will also talk about how panopticism helps in our prisons to keep prisoners under control.

Now, I am going to move onto the ways that this type of surveillance can actually be a really good thing for all of us. Well, at least for those of us that are actually good, law abiding citizens. For the criminals of the world panopticism is all around a bad thing for you. The first really good thing that comes from this everyday surveillance is that it actually helps to prevent a lot of crime in our society. It is a proven and tested fact that the presence of security cameras reduces the rate of crime just by giving criminals fear that they may easily be seen and caught. I actually was lucky enough to learn about this specifically during my lectures in Criminology class this semester, and also through reading my Criminology Textbook Introduction to Criminology Theories, Methods, And Criminal Behavior this semester. Through my readings in this book I found a small section that actually told readers some of the many experiments that they actually have done in Criminology. One of these experiments was exactly about what I am talking about in this paragraph. For this experiment the criminologists were hoping to find out if having a camera in a store or bank would actually have any effect on the crime rate that was occurring in the store with the camera compared to a store without the security cameras. In their test they discovered that 30% more of the attempted robbers were caught where there was a camera in the store versus when there was no camera (Hagan 36). Then for another example Professor Calaway, my Criminology professor, told us of a similar experiment where they went to a neighborhood that had a lot of crime, put a camera in a bank, and then in another bank right across the street they left it how it always had been. Both of the banks were in a very high crime area and both had their fair share of robberies prior to this experiment. After the experiment came to an end they discovered that the bank with the camera had been robbed a lot less than the other bank and from the bank before it had the camera in it. These both prove that it definitely does reduce crime rates.

Through some field research of my own I have discovered and learned a lot more about how surveillance cameras are used in stores today, how they prevent crime in stores, and also some reasons that even today they are not stopping every robbery in every store. Thanks to my new job at Dick’s Sporting Goods I was able to take some pictures of the many security cameras hanging from the ceiling of the store, and I was also able to ask the store manager a few questions about the stores security. In our store there are enough cameras to be able to see in almost every isle in the store, and what is left unseen by the cameras is up to the workers to keep their eyes on. In the store we use the cameras to go back after the crime happened to find the person that did it and mainly to see what they look like and then a picture of the criminal is posted for the stores to look out for. This is how they prevent crimes. Not only the number of cameras in the store but the effectiveness of them being able to take a picture of the person and the workers’ eyes being able to spot the people on another day. One way that the cameras are not effective even today is the crimes that are committed in changing rooms. A lot of criminals will take items into fitting room, somehow take the security tags off and then hide the items under their clothing, and then leave without anyone knowing until the changing room is cleaned out and the tags are found later that day because there are no cameras in those rooms for privacy reasons. This makes it impossible to even find the person on camera unless they did a bad job of hiding the items under their shirt or jacket. Cameras are very effective at what they do, but may never be perfect.

Another thing that is a lot better thanks to the large amount of surveillance cameras is that more criminals can be caught after they commit a crime, and it has also made it a lot easier to catch these bad guys than it had been years ago. Now, in the world that we live in almost everything we do is seen by one of these cameras. This includes criminals committing crimes all over the world. Getting these bad guys on camera wouldn’t really matter without a way of showing the pictures to a large number of people to help identify the person involved. In our world we have this covered too, and it is happening almost all of the time. Even here in Cincinnati on the news at night, they cover robberies, break-ins, and anything else that may have happened during the day, and a lot of the time they will have a picture of the suspect on the screen for the world to see taken by the company’s or person’s security cameras.



This picture shows what the community as well as the police officers would look at to see if they can recognize the person and if by chance the community can and have any information about the suspect they contact the authorities immediately and the person can much more easily be caught now that he is no longer just a random face. I even remember recently when the Boston Bombing happened CNN would play the same video over and over again of who they believed the bombers were so that their faces would be out there all over Massachusetts, until they finally caught one and shot the other in a shootout with police where they were finally found.



The last reason that I am going to talk about is how panopticism helps to keep inmates in prison under control. So it not only reduces crime and helps to catch criminals, it also helps to keep them from doing what they are not supposed to do while they are serving their sentences in prison. While in prisons today prisoners continue their criminal ways by fighting with other inmates and even attacking the guards that are working in the prisons. To keep these prisoners from doing these things that they are not supposed to do in prison, people have come up with some different ideas for prevention. My favorite was the `blimp in a box`. This was actually something that Ohio purchased to use in Warren County prisons. I read about this device in the article “Ohio buys `blimp in a box` for surveillance”. This blimp is connected to a camera and floats up into the air to keep a watch over all of the inmates so that they know not to do anything stupid or they will easily be seen and just serve more time or be punished. This type of idea is very similar to the panopticon idea, which was an idea for a prison where there was a watch tower in the middle of a circular room completely surrounded by prisoners that could be seen but could not see you.

This type of set up which is in the picture above, would make inmates fearful because they could be watched at any time without them even knowing it. They would have to do exactly what they were supposed to or they may have to suffer the consequences of their actions. This type of idea is similar to how surveillance cameras in the real world work too. They put the fear of being caught into people that may attempt to commit crimes.

Through your reading of this essay I really hope that I have been able to convince you that panopticism and the idea of our entire lives being seen by surveillance cameras is overall a good thing. There are still many people that would say that this is a bad thing, but in the end it is good and we need it in our lives. I’m sure that there are many things that could be done to make it even better and make it easier for those people to believe that it is only a good thing, but for the purpose of this essay I just want them to believe that although it could be improved from what it is now, it really is a great thing even how it is now. Although I really do not like the fact that I lose some of my privacy thanks to these cameras everywhere it is definitely really comforting to know that it is helping to reduce crime and catch the bad guys that still commit these crimes anyways all of the time. Panopticism may not be absolutely perfect the way that it is today, but it is certainly a great thing that we need in our lives today and in the future as criminals continue to commit crimes every day.

Works Cited

Brinkley, Dominic. “Ohio Buys `blimp in a Box` for Surveillance.” The Columbus Dispatch.

Bradly Harmon, 21 July 2014. Web. 15 Sept. 2016.

Gutting, Gary, "Michel Foucault", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2014

Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = .

Hagan, Frank E. Introduction to Criminology: Theories, Methods, and Criminal Behavior. N.p.:

n.p., n.d. Print.

Moseman, Andrew. “How an Airport Fixed TSA Lines By Tracking Your Phone.” Popular

Mechanics. N.P., 2015. Web. 14 Sept. 2016.

N.d. Center for the Future of Museums. 29 May 2015. Web. 15 Sept. 2016.

N.d. Tucson. KVOA. 23 July 2015. Web. 15 Sept. 2016.

Prior, Helder. “Democracy is watching you: from panopticism to the security state.” Revista

FAMECOS, vol. 22, no. 1, 2015, http://search.proquest.com.proxy.libraries.uc.edu/docview/1688467461?pq-origsite=summon&accountid=2909. Accessed 14 September 2016.

Annotated Bibliography

Brinkley, Dominic. “Ohio Buys `blimp in a Box` for Surveillance.” The Columbus Dispatch.

Bradly Harmon, 21 July 2014. Web. 15 Sept. 2016.

This article talks about how Ohio bought a type of blimp surveillance thing to keep

control of the inmates in a local prison. This is a reliable source because it is a real newspaper in Columbus and the author of the specific article is a writer for the newspaper. I will use this article to show an example of how they are using panopticism in Ohio to help keep criminals in jail under control.

Gutting, Gary, "Michel Foucault", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2014

Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = .

This article talks about the ideas of Michel Foucault about panopticism and how it works in a prison environment. This is a great source to use because it is an encyclopedia from a great college. I plan to use this to explain to the readers how this idea of surveillance can really keep control of inmates in their cells.

Hagan, Frank E. Introduction to Criminology: Theories, Methods, and Criminal Behavior. N.p.:

n.p., n.d. Print.

This book has a little bit of everything about criminology from how to describe what a

Criminal is, to the average crime rates in the United States. This is a great source because

it is a college textbook for criminal justice students all over the country. I plan to you this source because through my reading of it in my criminology class I came over a great example of how camera surveillance can reduce crime.

Moseman, Andrew. “How an Airport Fixed TSA Lines By Tracking Your Phone.” Popular

Mechanics. N.P., 2015. Web. 14 Sept. 2016.

In this source the author informs citizens that the airports have attempted to shorten TSA lines by tracking your cell phones. I know that this is a reliable source both because the author has his work in other reliable magazines and whatever else he’s apart of and also because the website that his article is on is pretty popular. I plan to use this article to tell the reader that they can cut into our privacy some by doing things like tracking your phone as it talks about here.

N.d. Center for the Future of Museums. 29 May 2015. Web. 15 Sept. 2016.

This is a picture that shows an example of panopticon in a prison. I found this on a reliable website that is all about creating future museums. I will use this in my essay to give an example of what one of these prisons would of looked like.

N.d. Tucson. KVOA. 23 July 2015. Web. 15 Sept. 2016.

This is a picture of a man stealing something. He was caught on a security camera and now people can use it to identify him. This picture was on a new website in Arizona. I will use this as an image to help identify criminals and catch them.

Prior, Helder. “Democracy is watching you: from panopticism to the security state.” Revista

FAMECOS, vol. 22, no. 1, 2015, http://search.proquest.com.proxy.libraries.uc.edu/docview/1688467461?pq-origsite=summon&accountid=2909. Accessed 14 September 2016.



In this source the author discusses how much surveillance has grown since the terrorist attacks on September eleventh, and how this effects people in society and their privacy. This source is credible because of how knowledgeable the author is in the subject that he is writing on. I will be using this scholarly article in my essay for information about just how much surveillance has grown and also how much it actually effects citizens.


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