How VR is Helping the Broken Prison System
In a world where the U.S. government spends three times more on prisons than schools, you have probably asked yourself “Why are there so many people in prison?”
Many factors and influences contribute to this colossal issue.
The Global Prison Population total is currently at 10.5 million (out of which 2.2 million are in the U.S. and 1.6 million are in China) according to the International Centre for Prison Studies (October 2016). The FY 2016 US Budget allocated is $8.8 Billion for Prisons & Detention (according to the U.S. Department of Justice FY 2016 Budget Request) along with an approximate FY 2016 Global Budget of $35.2 Billion.
Since the war on drugs started in 1970, America’s prison population has surged 700 percent to 2.4 million according to Business Insider’s “13 Signs that America’s Prison System is Out of Control” (April, 2012).
As published by Stephanie Slifer (April 23 2014) on CBS news, about 68% of 405,000 prisoners released in 30 states were arrested for a new crime within three years of their release from prison, and 77% were arrested within five years, according to a report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).
Dr. Raji Wahidy, the company’s founder and CEO, entrepreneur believes in the amazing capabilities and potential in the future. Especially in rehabilitation and education for prisoners, basically preparing them for an improved life outside of incarceration. The main goal is reducing the number of repeat offenses and re-entry prison rates, and easing the burden on taxpayers. Virtual Rehab was founded on the basis of this belief.
Cost to Taxpayers (in Billion $)
Global Prison Population (in Millions)
5 Year Recidivism Rate
Virtual Rehab focuses on 4 areas:
Virtual Rehab will develop an interactive formal education tool, where inmates can strengthen their knowledge of English, Business, Mathematics, Sciences, Technology, and other courses, as deemed appropriate
Vocational Job Training
Leveraging Virtual Rehab’s interactive tool, inmates will be able to acquire new vocational job training skills including car mechanic, plumbing, welding, carpentry, and others, as deemed appropriate
Virtual Rehab’s interactive tool will assist in treating inmates psychological challenges including mental & emotional disorders, co-existing disorder, intermittent explosive disorder, and others, as deemed appropriate
Correctional Services Rehabilitation
The real-life scenarios and interactivity of Virtual Rehab’s tool will allow inmates to undergo correctional services rehabilitation across sex offending, family violence, alcoholism, and others, as deemed appropriate.
Dr. Raji Wahidy – Founder and CEO of Virtual Rehab
Virtual Rehab Founder and CEO Dr. Raji Wahidy was featured in a Q&A by Correctional News. He answered with a plethora of vital information.
Wahidy: Key benefits include:
- Enhancing inmates’ formal education — according to the U.S. Department of Justice, majority of inmates are educated at less than a sixth-grade reading level — to allow them to be released with higher qualifications. Formal education can be conducted through individualized learning plans where inmates can also learn at their own paces.
- Vocational job training that will further assist them in development from a professional perspective.
- Leverage advancement in technology for psychiatric rehab (cognitive behavioral therapy, reduction of stress, anxiety and phobias) rather than sitting down with a psychiatrist and feeling obligated to share things that they may not wish to share (an intimidating process).
- Opportunity to experience real-life scenarios and have their actions and reactions be evaluated in a more environmentally friendly manner.
- Less focus on punishment and more focus on learning.
Q: What are the key benefits for prison operations employees making Virtual Rehab available to inmates?
Wahidy: Notable key benefits include:
- Cost savings — no need to send inmates from one facility to another for certain training or particular rehab programs, and no need for one-on-one psychiatrist sessions, etc.
- The consolidation of efforts into one space (room) rather than being engaged in multiple activities across different locations and at different timings (making the schedule easier to manage).
- A lower number of altercations among inmates. When inmates are in a better state-of-mind, then their behavior will consequently improve dramatically.
- Lowering the stress level of prison operations employees due to the lower number of inmates problems.
- Improved relationship among prison operations employees and inmates (due to soft skills education provided through the VR educational curriculum).
We’ve seen a tremendous amount of disruptive change coming from the Virtual Reality Industry. It is surely certain that this kind of content will accelerate based on trends in the future.
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