More than 200 people joined hand-in-hand, wrapping around the Shelby County Jail today to pray for those who don't often receive prayers.
"We pray for the victims of crime to our various community resources but I think it's also important to lift up in prayer those people who committed crimes," says Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell.
It's the second year for "Hands Around 201 Poplar," an initiative started to pray for Memphis criminals to change their lives.
"We believe in the power of prayer, we believe in the pulling down of strongholds and we believe this is a spiritual warfare," says Pastor Ralph White, the program's organizer from Bloomfield Baptist Church. "We can call it gun violence, we can call it whatever, but sin is the problem and we have the solution to that problem."
White says the young men and women committing these crimes are products of our community. He says the media is oftentimes the scapegoat for what the real problem is.
"To be very honest when we look at the young men and young women whose faces show up in breaking news, they tend to look like me. As we move into Black History Month we feel that we have an obligation to reach out and deal with some of these problems before we annihilate our race," says White, "Instead of making excuses we have to take initiative to change our community."
Hands Around 201 Poplar may be a small effort with little fanfare, but White says there is a need.
"It's not going to change everything overnight because we didn't get to where we are now overnight," says White.
These prayer initiatives will continue throughout the month. Next week White and his group will be at the North Frayser Community Center and the following week at the Westwood Community Center.
They will be there at 11 a.m. and encourage other groups in those communities to join them during the prayers so they can work together with them in these efforts.