Reagan Greene

Millbank Prison was a prison in Millbank, London, originally constructed as the National Penitentiary, which was used as a holding facility for prisoners before they were transported to Australia during most of the ninetieth century (Jackson, 2014). Architect and philosopher Jeremy Bentham originally bought the land for the project and planned to design the prison as a Panopticon. Bentham’s project was later abandoned, Millbank was then designed by William Williams to reflect the Bentham’s original work.

Millbank Prison is an important part of surveillance because it exemplifies the disciplinary society of the time and reflects upon architectural surveillance as a key factor in conformity. In the design, an inmate would not know whether they were being watched or not, they would have to assume they were under scrutiny at all times, leading to inmates to maintain their best behavior; thus order was assured by the presumption of constant surveillance, created by architecture and discipline (Lemon & Daniel, 2019). With a disciplinary society, control and continuous fear of castigation for their actions, kept the public in line and under governmental control; this also required “uniformity of outcome (be that education, military training, factory assembly, or healing) require a high personalized intervention)” (Horne & Malay, 2014, p. 23). This explains how the design of Millbank, octangular arrays that allow no personal privacy, in hopes of inspiring a change in character based upon the idea of constant surveillance. Horne and Malay also explain, “architecture serves to enhance these relationships, but its the surveillance that makes it all work” (Horne, 2014, p. 24).Meaning, that Millbank was in most regards, a revolutionary design that used surveillance to establish the idea of convicts correcting themselves in a disciplinary society


Jackson, A. (2014). Imprisonment and Millbank. Retrieved from https://www.digitalpanopticon.org/Imprisonment

Horne, E. & Maly, T. (2014). The inspection house: An impertinent field guide to modern surveillance. Toronto, Canada: Coach House Books.

Lemon, J. & Daniel, P. (2019). Millbank prison. Cholera and the Thames. Retrieved from https://www.choleraandthethames.co.uk/cholera-in-london/cholera-in-westminster/millbank-prison/


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Key Concepts in Surveillance Studies Copyright © 2019 by Reagan Greene is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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