Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg released a virtual reality (VR) movie Sunday in hopes to help people assimilate with prison inmates.
The documentary called “Step to the Line” utilizes VR technology to give viewers an opportunity to see prison and convicts in a first-person perspective.
“It puts you face-to-face with real inmates so you can experience their stories first-hand and understand what it’s like to be a part of the criminal justice system today and how hard it can be to build a better future,” Zuckerberg wrote on the post accompanying the short-film.
The tech leader embarked on a tour throughout the southern U.S. in recent months as part of a larger goal of visiting every state in the country.
“When I was in Alabama two months ago as part of my ‘Year of Travel’ challenge, one of the most powerful experiences for me was meeting Anthony Ray Hinton, a man who was exonerated and released after 30 years on death row,” Zuckerberg explained. “There’s nothing like meeting someone like Anthony in person, but VR can get you pretty close. It’s a reminder of how much work we have to do to guarantee equal justice for all.”
The movie features some team building-related activities that exhibit some of the prisoners’ prior circumstances before ending up in prison.
“Violence took place in my home growing up,” the leader of the exercise can be heard saying before inmates and employees step forward and back to indicate who the statement applies to. The activity is likely a reference to the title of the movie.
“I’ve been shot or stabbed … I’ve lost blood to gang violence,” the speaker announces as several inmates step forward.
The footage also takes viewers into a confined prison cell, making the experience of incarceration all the more real.
Step to the Line was first shown Friday at the famous Tribeca Film Festival. It is part of the “VR For Good” project, an initiative launched by Facebook’s VR branch Oculus. (RELATED: Founder Of Facebook Virtual Reality Branch Dumped A Bunch Of Money Into Trump’s Inauguration)
The primary objective of the program is to support VR film ventures that help encourage what Facebook sees as positive social change.
“One of the most powerful side effects of VR is empathy — the ability to understand other people better when you feel like you’re actually with them,” said Zuckerberg.
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