In 2012, the US Supreme Court ruled sentences of life imprisonment without parole for juvenile offenders are unconstitutional. The question arose for officials:
how to prepare prisoners who never expected to be released from prison for life outside?
Some applied to VR for a solution. One of the prisons in Colorado hired Nsena VR to develop several interactive virtual reality scenarios that offered lessons of activities that prisoners could do in the outside world: how to cook a hot dog, how to wash, how to punch goods at the checkout, how to walk along a busy street, how to use a credit card… Lesson topics may seem commonplace, but it’s worth emphasizing that it’s about people who were put in jail by children and spent most of their lives there. Knowing nothing about activities that we consider routine.
A similar program has been operating since 2018 in Illinois. Students there developed VR scenarios designed to help prisoners acclimatize to society. They interviewed many former prisoners who were released after long prison terms. Thereby those areas of life were determined, where, according to former prisoners, the largest gaps were observed.
At the same time, The Guardian conducted an experiment on solitary confinement in American prisons. They developed a 6x9 project that allows you to imagine what it’s like to be a prisoner. 6×9 is the area of a solitary cell (in feet) in which people are forced to spend 23 hours a day. The project is a smartphone application that will create the feeling of being in the camera and tell you what the consequences of isolation are. It can be used both with a special optical device and without it.
During the session, a user hears the voices of prisoners and the thoughts of psychologists who discuss the tragic consequences of such a stay. Water drips around the viewer, doors slam and inscriptions on the cement walls appear, contributing to the development of claustrophobia.