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The Impact of Correctional CCTV Cameras on Infractions and Investigations: A Synthetic Control Approach to Evaluating Surveillance System Upgrades in a Minnesota Prison

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Policy Review Volume: 33 Issue: 8 Dated: 2022 Pages: 843-869
Date Published
May 2022
27 pages

Since internal surveillance systems have long been used by prisons to combat misbehavior, but limited research has focused on cameras’ preventive potential, failing to examine their utility in investigations, this study used comparative interrupted time-series analyses and synthetic control methods to evaluate the impact of upgrading a surveillance system in a prison’s housing unit on total infractions and infractions resulting in guilty dispositions.


Upgrades were two-phased, enabling researchers to examine the differential effects of replacing outdated cameras versus installing new cameras. One comparison unit came from the same facility as the treatment unit, while the other was synthetically generated from units in other prisons. The evaluation found limited evidence that the interventions reduced infractions, though there was a stronger link between the interventions and an increase in guilty dispositions, particularly from the installation of new cameras to reduce blind spots. This article discusses the implications of these findings for policy and research. (Published abstract provided)

Date Published: May 1, 2022