Female Prisoner Reentry Scenarios
A partnership with Emerson College’s Civic Engagement Lab and the Department of Corrections, this project is a story-based, multi-episode, and guided virtual reality experience that helps to train female inmates for the underlying psychological challenges of reentry. The screenplay was co-written with incarcerated women at SMCC and edited by formerly incarcerated women. We worked with formerly incarcerated women as on-screen and voice actors as well as set designers.
In line with both the Massachusetts Department of Correction’s mission of providing their population with effective programming to prepare for successful reentry into the community, and two of Emerson’s five strategies (Civic Engagement/Innovation), the program is being integrated by Deputy Superintendent of South Middlesex Correctional Center.
The population at South Middlesex Correctional Center (SMCC) is preparing for reentry into the community. Often this is after years of incarceration, and lacking exposure to new technologies which the public has had time to learn. With immersive video, we believe there is an opportunity to expose this population to some of what they will be faced with upon release. Facing their emotions while in a safe environment allows the inmates to receive the support they need. The primary goal is to help prepare them for healthy decision-making at the time of the stressors presenting themselves, thus, help to reduce recidivism in our correctional system.
Each episode is a first-person story that follows the arc:
1. You encounter a stressful situation;
2. You experience both external dialogue and internal thoughts reflecting conflict, temptation, and rationalizing;
3. You ultimately overcome the stressful situation and see the aftermath of the decision taken.
We created three pilot episodes:
1. Dealing with strangers in rush hour with facilitated small group discussions pre-and post-immersion.
2. Temptation in addiction recovery
3. “Check the box” job screening