prisoners prepare for freedom

Helping Inmates Handle the Outside World

With the largest prison population in the world, the American justice system needs better approaches for managing inmates. Two reporters for went to Colorado to find out about a new approach for preparing inmates for release into the modern world. The success rate of returning prisoners to living free is alarming, and it’s been that way for years. The problem in part, is that prisoners must learn how to navigate in modern society, especially those behind bars for 5 years or more.

A change in the thinking of people involved with sentencing criminals occurs every few years. Sometimes harsher sentences are called for, usually in an election year. But gradually, the thinking of the justice system has shifted a bit. The long sentences given to teenagers have been re-considered and the trend now is to find a way to safely release some of the men who grew up in a prison system due to crimes committed as youths.

This year, Colorado started an early-release program for people convicted as juveniles and who’ve already served 20 years of their sentence. The program has a new technological wrinkle: to get ready for life on the outside, inmates in the 3-year program have to use virtual reality to practice skills they never learned as teens, like doing laundry and grocery shopping. The inmates must complete the program in order to qualify for possible early release. The video below will give you a better idea of what is taking place in a Colorado prison. It appears at first glance, to be a huge improvement for an inmate’s understanding of what awaits them upon release.