Prison overcrowding is becoming something of a problem in the US – and indeed, around the world. The Global Prison Population total is currently set at 10.5 million, and one reason jails are so overcrowded is that repeat offences are so common.
According to the National Institute of Justice in the US, within three years of release, about two-thirds of released prisoners were rearrested. Within five years of release, about three-quarters of released prisoners were rearrested.
Central to encouraging people not to reoffend is rehabilitation, something that can take a lot of time, money and effort to achieve successfully – even just for one inmate.
But one startup has come forward with a possible solution: Virtual Rehab. It’s fairly new, having just launched earlier this month, and has a vision of reducing the number of repeat offences and re-imprisonment.
It aims to do this by using VR correctional services and rehab programmes and is built on the principal that everyone deserved a second chance, with prisoners being in the most need of help with this.
The scope of Virtual Rehab’s tool includes education (curriculums, sex offender programmes, family violence, living skills, community correctional programs), job training and more.
Its tech is currently patent pending, but Virtual Rehab says it wants to work alongside government authorities and global firms for private prisons to put in place correctional services and rehab programmes.
The company says that through the tool, inmates should also be able to enhance their soft and their hard skills with real-life scenarios so they can integrate with the outside world easier once they come out.
Virtual reality has already had an impact in various areas related to rehabilitation, including in the treatment of conditions such as PTSD and anxiety. When used as an education tool, it has the potential to teach people basic skills, from reading and writing, to a whole new trade.
VR is also being tested out to see what kind of an impact it could have on other areas of the justice system, including helping jury members visualise a scene properly so they can make a measured decision. However, this is all in the very early stages, so it’s likely to be a year or two before VR really does make an impact in this area.