When Will Virtual Reality Be a Reality for Community Corrections? Part 2

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APPA Connect on 6/3/2021 by Joe Russo

In a previous blog we outlined a brief history of virtual reality (VR) and its origins in the gaming and entertainment industries. In this blog we will describe several “real world” applications of VR including military, corporate, therapeutic, law enforcement, and institutional corrections settings. In the next blog we will explore specific ways that VR can be leveraged to support the community corrections mission.
As VR technology has advanced and become more accessible, its use has expanded well beyond the entertainment and high-end gaming sectors into a wide variety of fields such as education, healthcare, communications, and engineering. As we’ll discuss, VR is also making in-roads into the justice system. Many applications are related to training and skill development, and VR offers significant advantages. For example, VR powered scenarios allow the participant to learn and practice skills that are not easily accomplished in the “real-world” because of safety or logistical issues (e.g., surgery, flight simulation, emergency response). VR can also reduce costs associated with gathering a group of people together for in-person training; VR training can occur anywhere.  Further, VR allows the opportunity to repeat exercises at the participant’s own pace, and scenarios can be developed with increasing difficulty to challenge the participant. Finally, VR offers the unique ability for the participant to take on the role of another person in a scenario, which can help develop empathy and lead to achievement of desired outcomes.