It is very difficult for incarcerated parents to return to their everyday life and re-establish relations with their children. Fortunately, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) pilot program uses VR experiences to improve relationships between children and incarcerated parents preparing to re-enter society.
According to a Sam Houston State University study, children visiting their parents in prison also have a hard time due to negative emotions. In the study, 65 percent of the children showed adverse reactions to prison visits, including anxiety, depressive symptoms, and anger.
VR Visitations Instead Of Prison Visits
The DOC has launched a new pilot program that lets incarcerated parents and their children meet in different VR experiences. This way, the children won’t be exposed to the negative emotions of prisons and instead get to spend quality time with their parents.
The VR initiative comes through a $680,000 grant from the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention programs. Through this grant, 21 Meta Quest 2 headsets were purchased, and 11 VR experiences were developed.
One of these VR experiences allows families to talk to each other while exploring the International Space Station together. There’s also a 360-degree coloring book where parents and children can color together and spend some quality time. These VR experiences also train prisoners how to go shopping, use a cell phone, or clean an apartment.
VR experience helping prisoners and their families
With this program, children can visit their incarcerated parents without traveling to prison. They can instead approach community providers (Amachi Pittsburgh and Public Health Management Corporation) in Philadelphia to facilitate virtual reality visits.
Currently, the program is limited to select state correctional institutions in Phoenix, Fayette, Frackville, and Muncy. Hopefully, the program can be expanded to more regions so that families can interact with their parents without visiting prisons.
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