Jay-Z sues Mississippi prison bosses on behalf of 29 inmates who say officials did nothing to stop violence which left five prisoners dead
- Rapper Jay-Z is suing two Mississippi prison officials on behalf of 29 inmates
- It comes after five prisoners killed in the last two weeks in Mississippi prisons
- A letter to state governor said deaths were a result of years of understaffing
Rapper Jay-Z is suing two Mississippi prison officials on behalf of 29 inmates who say authorities did nothing to stop violence that has killed five prisoners in the last two weeks.
The lawsuit, filed by Jay-Z’s lawyer Alex Spiro in the U.S. District Court in Greenville, Mississippi on Tuesday, says ‘these deaths are a direct result of Mississippi’s utter disregard for the people it has incarcerated and their constitutional rights.’
Spiro, on behalf of Jay-Z and hip-hop artist Yo Gotti, wrote a letter to Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant and DOC Commissoner Pelicia Hall dated January 9 saying that they were ‘prepared to pursue all potential avenues to obtain relief for the people living in Mississippi’s prisons and their families.’
Rapper Jay-Z (pictured) is suing two Mississippi prison officials on behalf of 29 inmates who say authorities did nothing to stop violence that has killed five prisoners in the last two weeks
Mississippi State Penitentiary (MSP), also known as Parchman Farm, where three inmates have died over the past two weeks
The letter added that the deaths were as a result of years of severe understaffing and neglect at Mississippi’s prisons, according to NBC News.
‘As Mississippi has incarcerated increasing numbers of people, it has dramatically reduced its funding of prisons. As a result, prison conditions fail to meet even the most basic human rights,’ NBC reported, citing the contents of the letter.
The lawsuit, filed against the head of the Mississippi Department of Corrections and the warden of the state penitentiary in Parchman, seeks damages for the prisoners and an order forcing the department to address the issues, mainly by increasing staff and cleaning up sewage, celebrity website TMZ reported.
Denorris Howell, 36, was the latest prisoner to be killed in Mississipi, after he was found before 3 am in his cell oat Parchman Farm on January 3, covered in blood with a neck wound. Inmates Walter Gates, 25 and Roosevelt Holliman, 32, were also killed at Parchman. Holliman was found fatally stabbed on Thursday, December 26.
Gates suffered multiple stab wounds, possibly from a shank.
Roosevelt Holliman, 32, (left) was found fatally stabbed at Parchman on Thursday, December 26. Denorris Howell, 36, (right) was killed at the same prison on January 3, with a fatal neck wound
Parchman inmate Walter Gates, 25,suffered multiple stab wounds, possibly from a shank
Terrandance Dobbins, 40, (left) was killed at South Mississippi jail on Sunday, December 29 and Gregory Emary, 26, (right) was killed at the Chickasaw County Regional Correctional Facility on December 26
Terrandance Dobbins, 40, was killed at South Mississippi jail on Sunday, December 29 and Gregory Emary, 26, was killed at the Chickasaw County Regional Correctional Facility on December 26.
The most recent incidents to cast a shadow over Mississippi’s prison system include widespread rioting and five deaths at three facilities in 10 days. Three inmates were killed at Parchman Farm amid the spike in violence, which has prompted prisoner advocates to call for a federal inquiry.
The Mississippi Department of Corrections and Spiro’s law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Jay-Z has been a vocal supporter of African-American communities and has previously rejected Donald Trump’s claims that his presidency has been beneficial for African Americans.
Jay-Z (pictured) has been a vocal supporter of African-American communities and has previously rejected Donald Trump’s claims that his presidency has been beneficial for African Americans
Following reports that Trump had referred to African countries as ‘shitholes’, Jay Z said: ‘Yes, it’s disappointing and hurtful. Everyone feels anger. After the anger, it’s really hurtful because he’s like looking down on a whole population of people.’
He is not the first popular celebrity to have tried their hand at influencing politics, with reality TV star Kim Kardashian meeting with the President at the White House in May 2018, which led to the release of Tennessee grandmother Alice Marie Johnson, 63.
Kim joined attorney Brittany K Barnett and has secretly funded the Buried Alive Project, which has helped free 17 inmates who were handed huge jail sentences for low-level drug offences as part of its 90 Days of Freedom project.
In June 2019, Kim spoke about a second chance hiring and re-entry initiative alongside Trump at the White House, to promote efforts to help those leaving prison get jobs and stay on track.
Kim Kardashian visited US President Donald Trump in May 2018 to discuss prison reform and sentencing
Kim Kardashian speaks about a second chance hiring and re-entry initiative alongside US President Donald Trump at the White House in June 2019
Last year, Kim visited the notorious San Quentin prison where a convicted murderer she is trying to free is being held.
Kevin Cooper has been on death row for 33 years and will face the lethal injection for the murders of four people, including two ten-year-old children.
It has been claimed an advanced DNA test could exonerate him with suggestions he might have been framed for the heinous crime.
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