Viatorians join with the Washington-based Coalition on Human Needs in exposing the growing jail crisis in rural America — and it starts with the continued use of solitary confinement.

In a story published this month in CHN’s Voices for Human Needs, intern Rebecca Isaksen describes a recent panel discussion at the Vera Institute for Justice, in which they examined the disparity between criminal justice reform in major urban areas as opposed to rural counties.

“Since 2013, large metropolitan areas saw a jail capacity reduction of 18 percent. However, rural counties increased their jail capacity by 27 percent and small and mid-sized metropolitan areas had a 7 percent increase,” Isaksen reported.

Part of the problem, the story relates, is the lack of mental health services in rural areas. A lack of services for those incarcerated often leads to acting out, and ultimately they are punished by being sent to solitary confinement.

“Solitary confinement has detrimental psychological effects and is especially harmful to those who already suffer from mental health problems, as many incarcerated individuals do,” the story states.

Read the entire story here.