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Birmingham City Jail Full to Overflowing

May 7, 1963 - Birmingham’s city jail was so jammed with Negro demonstrators today it took more than four hours to serve breakfast — grits and gravy, applesauce, and bacon. More than 2,200 have been arrested since the demonstrations began April 3. City and county officials said the Negroes arrested were being fed and bedded “as well or better than most of them have at home.” Robert Austin, chief city jailer, said it took from 4:30 a.m. until 9 a.m. to feed breakfast to 1,319 persons, which included about 800 demonstrators. They ate in shifts. Mr. Austin added that a number of Negroes got wet in the jail yard yesterday due to a rainstorm while they were being processed. He said it was the fault of the Negroes, however, because “they refused to come in out of the rain.” In the southside jail, males are kept on the first floor and females on the third floor. When conditions got crowded, officers put some males in “the pit,” a three-story room which usually quarters persons picked up for drunkenness. The prisoners sleep on the floor almost shoulder-to-shoulder.

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