MONTGOMERY — Family members and advocates of Alabama inmates crowded into a state task force meeting today to plead for changes in state prisons that have come under national scrutiny for violent and crowded conditions.

The Governor's Study Group on Criminal Justice heard from family members, attorneys and advocacy groups. Speakers urged an overhaul of conditions, sentencing laws and medical care.

Sandy Ray showed the panel a photo of the battered face of her son, Steven Davis, who died in October after an altercation with corrections officers.

The Department of Corrections announced in October it was investigating Davis' death after officers used "physical measures" on Davis whom they said had a makeshift weapon.

The Alabamians for Fair Justice Coalition placed signs on empty chairs with the names of 21 inmates they said died in state prisons in the last year from homicides, suicides and drug overdoses.

Gov. Kay Ivey created the study commission after the Department of Justice threatened to sue Alabama over unconstitutional prison conditions. The panel will make recommendations to legislators ahead of the 2020 legislative session.

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