This story is over 5 years old.


This prison is using VR to teach inmates how to live on the outside

They were convicted of murder as teens, but a new program is preparing them for a changed world.

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 three-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.


VICE News visited with six inmates convicted of murder as teens and sentenced to decades in prison. Many thought they would never get out. Because they were convicted in the 1980s and '90s, they've never even used smart phones.

The criminal justice system has changed too, becoming more forgiving of people who commit crimes as juveniles. Since 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court has slowly chipped away at harsh, mandatory sentences for kids, ruling in 2012 that it’s unconstitutional to sentence juveniles to life without parole. VICE News visited the medium-security Fremont Correctional Facility as some inmates used VR for the first time.