RESTON, Va. — Virtual reality continues to make its way into the corrections market, despite pushback from officials who see VR as a form of entertainment rather than therapy. The latest: GTL, a Reston-based correctional technology company that provides education solutions to assist in inmate rehabilitation, announced on July 10 that it built a virtual reality platform for the corrections market that will soon be piloted by an inmate control group.
The system consists of a virtual reality headset, learning management system and educational content designed to create real-world experiences. Inmates, for example, could experience a simulated family argument within the confines of their jail or prison walls. GTL’s virtual reality content can be used to provide educational content in an engaging way, while helping inmates control phobias or conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder. It can even help inmates in solitary confinement feel less isolated.
“I believe the most important use for this technology is simulating difficult situations for inmates that they must work through on their own, while still having a safety net,” said Dr. Turner Nashe, GTL’s senior vice president of Educational Services, in a statement. “An inmate with anger issues could be placed in a situation where they must deal with that emotion. There would still be controls to manage the situation if the inmate’s anger gets out of control. They can also continually work through their issues until they are able to control their reactions.”
The content can even go beyond therapeutic benefits to include teaching vocational skills such as plumbing and carpentry. Inmates who have more privileges could even use virtual reality to travel to other places in the world or play games to help combat boredom while being incarcerated. Some critics, however, contend that VR is inappropriate in prison settings and that it is merely entertainment. Despite such criticisms, Dr. Nashe’s enthusiasm for VR in the incarceration environment remains undeterred.
“The possibilities are exciting,” said Dr. Nashe in a statement. “Virtual reality provides the ability to positively influence an inmate before re-entry. It’s a great way to better help inmates reintegrate in society.”
GTL’s technology comes shortly after Virtual Rehab launched in May a trial program that similarly focuses on providing virtual and augmented reality to inmates in an effort to help inmates properly re-integrate back into society.