New Titan super-prisons have been proposed for the UK to deal with overcrowding:
And yet the next generation of prisons is to be the Titan, giant super-prisons packed with biometric scanners and other gadgetry. Despite all this new technology, a quick glance at the early plans for the Titans conjure up echoes of their Victorian ancestors.
Dwarfing anything in the current system, a key quality will be “optimal sight lines which would result in better staff utilisation and deliver staff savings”.
Such a demand harks back to a crucial crossroads in the development of Britain’s prisons at the beginning of the 19th Century.
“To induce… a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power. So to arrange things that the surveillance is permanent in its effects, even if it is discontinuous in its action; that the perfection of power should tend to render its actual exercise unnecessary.”
This could be a criticism from one of the opponents of Britain’s “CCTV society”. In fact, it is from French philosopher Michel Foucault’s attack on Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon, a landmark concept in the British prison system.