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Department of Corrections launching virtual reality program for incarcerated parents and children

KDKA-TV Afternoon Forecast (10/17)
KDKA-TV Afternoon Forecast (10/17) 04:37

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections is teaming up with a Pittsburgh non-profit for a virtual reality parenting pilot program.

The department and Amachi Pittsburgh are collaborating with Wrap Technologies to use virtual reality immersion that will let participants practice parenting skills in a 360-degree environment, building on existing programs. 

Community providers Amachi Pittsburgh and Public Health Management Corporation in Philadelphia will facilitate virtual reality visits for participating children, the department said. 

"The overwhelming majority of incarcerated parents will return to their families and communities at the conclusion of their prison sentence, and the DOC is committed to setting them up for success," said Acting Corrections Secretary George Little in a press release. "Practice makes perfect, and we hope role playing with the assistance of virtual avatars will help parents and children see beyond facility walls and build stronger families and safer communities."  

The VR program has been introduced at SCI Phoenix, SCI Fayette and SCI Frackville and is also available at SCI Muncy, a women's facility.

Penn State researchers have been tapped to evaluate the pilot program, which is only available to incarcerated parents who are housed in general population, are within three years of their minimum date and aren't convicted of any crimes involving children.

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