Cameras are objects that raise suspicion if you're doing any criminal acts, such as cutting, digging, chipping, fighting and searching another inmate's desk. They can detect if you have any contraband items on you [TE1 only, verify]. In TE2, cameras in certain locations will also alert if they see you at all, this is because certain areas are restricted. If a Guard sees you in these areas, your heat will increase as well.
You can use Duct Tape, Shaving Cream (PC version of TE1 only), and Toothpaste (PC version of TE1 only) to cover it temporarily. In The Escapists 2 and the Console and Mobile versions of TE1, you can only use a Roll of Duct Tape to cover it.
When a camera detects something suspicious, it will flash red and call the nearest Guard to check it. If a camera sees you doing something suspicious, your Heat will increase by around 10. If it detects you damaging the prison, a Lockdown will occur (TE2 only, you are sent to Solitary in TE1).