BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Pastors from around the Birmingham area staged a sit-in in front of the Jefferson County Jail Friday to highlight the issue of mass incarceration and the role race plays in it.
"I'm saying there are too many people incarcerated simply because of the color of their skin," said Paston Al B. Sutton.
The group held their sit-in for 12 hours Friday. Pastor Sutton says it comes down to a flaw in the system.
"We build prisons, multi-million dollar prisons and we have to occupy those prisons. Unfortunately, the people we look at first are people of color," said Sutton.
The latest data available from the Alabama Department of Corrections shows that African Americans make up over 55 percent of the inmate population. Whites occupy 44 percent of it.
Keep in mind too, all of these people have been convicted in a court of law.
"There are obviously people who have committed crimes, and subsequently serving their sentence," said Sutton. "There are at least 7,000 people in the system right now that are failing to get proper legal representation. A lot of people are sitting there and have not had their day in court."