The criminal justice system in our country is broken. Just imagine if technologists put their resources and knowledge toward solving some of our country’s biggest issues, instead of toward the next dating app. Today at South by South Lawn, the White House’s first-ever festival of art, ideas and action, I got a glimpse of what that world might look like.
My first stop was to 6’x9′, a virtual reality experience that shows you what it’s like to be in solitary confinement. Created in partnership by The Guardian and The Mill, 6’x9′ puts you inside a virtual 6-foot by 9-foot prison cell with just a bed, toilet and small area to put down some books. The nine-minute experience was designed using game engine technology and first-person accounts for the cell design and audio capture. Even though I was only “in” solitary confinement for nine minutes, it was intense. In the U.S., there are between 80,000 to 100,000 people held in solitary confinement for over 23 hours a day, which cannot possibly be good for someone’s mental health.