It used to be that just about anyone could get sentenced to life in prison no matter how old they were. However, a recently passed law means that young offenders can not be kept in prison forever because they ruled that was cruel. Now prisons are facing the problem that people who have been in jail for a long time are now expecting to be released into the world, but they have not experienced the world for a while. There is a lot of new technology and other things that could be a big shock to them when they get out into the world. Another consideration is that if you are arrested at a young age it’s possible you’ve never had a job before or been in certain normal situations that most people consider an everyday occurence like doing the dishes or laundry. Enter virtual reality.

At least one prison in Colorado is using VR to help prepare inmates for the world outside. They can work on their conflict resolution skills, and try their hand at doing household chores or using a self checkout machine. The immersive environment shows them what it really might be like to be out in the world and social workers help to administer the classes and answer any questions that might come up. The efficacy of the program is not yet known because none of the offenders have been released yet even though the law was passed in 2012.

Virtual reality has so many applications that it is clear we don’t even know what all of them are yet. They may be able to have other uses in prison to make the experience less depressing and more bearable for those with long sentences, or even to rehabilitate offenders using immersive therapy. It’s clear that the possibilities are endless.