Rap mogul Jay-Z sued the head of the Mississippi Department of Corrections and the warden of the state penitentiary Tuesday on behalf of 29 prisoners who say the two officials have done nothing to stop the violence that has left five inmates dead in the past two weeks.
What We Know:
- The lawsuit comes on the heels of a letter dated Jan. 9 that Spiro sent to Hall and Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant on behalf of Jay-Z and hip-hop artist Yo Gotti (Mario Mims) protesting the “inhumane conditions in prisons operated by the Mississippi Department of Corrections.” Spiro said they were “prepared to pursue all potential avenues to obtain relief for the people living in Mississippi’s prisons and their families.”
- It names as defendants DOC Commissioner Pelicia Hall and Mississippi State Penitentiary Superintendent Marshall Turner.
“People are forced to live in squalor, with rats that crawl over them as they sleep on the floor, having been denied even a mattress for a cot,” the letter said.
- The lawsuit names three prison inmates who were killed this year at the state penitentiary in Parchman, Mississippi.
“These deaths are a direct result of Mississippi’s utter disregard for the people it has incarcerated and their constitutional rights,” according to the lawsuit, which was filed by Jay-Z’s lawyer Alex Spiro at the U.S. District Court in Greenville, Mississippi.
Roc Nation is the entertainment agency that Jay-Z, aka Shawn Carter, founded in 2008.
Violence behind bars has been a long-festering problem in the Mississippi prison system. A 2014 investigation by The Clarion Ledger found that “gangs rule” the prisons and while corrections officials insist there is “zero tolerance” for violence, it continues unabated.