Singapore — Concerned netizens and academics alike were not happy with the Singapore Prison Service’s (SPS) choice of name for their quarterly newsletter.
The newsletter is currently called the Panopticon, an architectural infrastructure with a loaded concept.
The panopticon, introduced by English philosopher Jeremy Bentham and further discussed by French philosopher Michel Foucault, illustrates how one-sided constant surveillance on prisoners (and the public) is used to control their behaviour out of fear of punishment.
The panopticon also connotes a lack of transparency since people do not know who is watching them, or if anyone is watching them at all.
In other words, who watches the watchmen?
Netizens such as the blogger Mr Miyagi said the name “that tries to be clever” does not reflect the SPS’s aim to rehabilitate and re-integrate inmates to civil society.
“It is a serious service, and deserves an honest and straightforward treatment,” he said in a report by The Straits Times.
Other netizens commented that while the name may be apt for what the prison system essentially does, using the name just sounds like someone who wants to impress their supervisor.
The SPS, responding to feedback, acknowledged that the newsletter name may suggest a “misconstrued” image of the organisation as well as “convey an unintended and wrong imagery.”
The Panopticon newsletter was named as such in 2009 and was intended to allows inmates to be effectively and efficiently supervised.
The newsletter was made available for public access on the SPS website in July 2019.
“The features of the Panopticon are seen in many modern prisons today, and the name is consistent with SPS’ mission to ensure the secure custody of offenders, while at the same time rehabilitating them,” according to the SPS spokesperson.
The SPS stated that they will be conducting a review to rename the newsletter following the backlash./TISG
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