Powerful photo shows Alabama prison inmates praying for peace
In the wake of recent chaos breaking out in Alabama’s prisons, a growing number of inmates are turning to God and praying for peace.
Over the last week, a group of inmates at the St. Clair Correctional Facility started a prayer circle in the prison yard after their evening meal. The circle grew larger each night, and now over 100 inmates are praying together, along with a few guards and even an assistant warden.
The photo was originally sent to WBRC along with an anonymous message explaining why the prayer circle was formed.
“They are praying for help to stop the violence here at St. Clair and to help with the overcrowding of the prison, because prison officials won’t stop the violence,” said the message.
Alabama’s prisons have become increasingly chaotic over the past few months, due to poor conditions and dangerous overcrowding. Alabama has the second-highest number of inmates per capita in the nation and the state’s prisons are filled to roughly twice their capacity, prompting some to speculate that the federal government may intervene.
In March, two Alabama prisons erupted in riots that ended in multiple stabbings. One corrections officer was stabbed while trying to break up a fight at St. Clair Correction Facility, and over 100 inmates in William C. Holman Correctional Facility attempted to take control of the prison, sparking chaos that included multiple fires and the stabbing of a corrections officer and the prison warden.
In an attempt to fix the prison system’s problems, Governor Bentley pushed a plan this year for an $800 million bond issue to build four new state-of-the-art prisons. The legislature cut the governor’s original plan to $550 million and three new prisons, but the bill ultimately died before the session ended.
Although chaos has broken out in many of Alabama’s prisons in recent years, a revival has broken out as well.
Richard Green, the chaplain of the Calhoun County Jail in Anniston, has performed more than 1,664 baptisms in the past six and a half years. And last summer, Church of the Highlands, Alabama’s largest congregation with an average attendance of 32,500 across 12 campuses, announced that their prison ministry saw an incredible 100 inmates baptized in a single day at Bibb County Correctional Facility.
“The purpose for prison should be to rehabilitate,” said one commenter on Highland’s post. “What better path to rehabilitation is there than a declaration of God?”
Born-again inmates are now taking personal responsibility for improving prison conditions, and praying that God will help bring them peace. A Facebook post of the photo has inspired others to join the inmates in prayer, whether physically or spiritually.
“We ask God to hold his hands over us and help us make it home,” the post read.