Jay-Z has filed a lawsuit against the head of the Mississippi Department of Corrections and the warden of the state penitentiary for failing to take any action to put a stop to the excessive violence endured by inmates, five of each have died in the past two weeks. The lawsuit, which was filed on Tuesday by Jay-Z’s lawyer Alex Spiro on behalf of 29 inmates, states that “these deaths are a direct result of Mississippi’s utter disregard for the people it has incarcerated and their constitutional rights.” In a statement to NBC News, Spiro expressed that “we cannot treat people this way and it’s time to do something about it.” DOC Commissioner Pelicia Hall and Mississippi State Penitentiary Superintendent Marshall Turner have been named as defendants in the case.
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This lawsuit comes in the wake of a letter sent by Spiro on behalf of Jay-Z and his Roc Nation signee, Yo Gotti, to Mississippi’s Governor Phil Bryant. The letter outlined the “inhumane conditions in prisons operated by the Mississippi Department of Corrections,” including inmates being “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.” “This unthinkable spate of deaths is the culmination of years of severe understaffing and neglect at Mississippi’s prisons,” the letter reads. “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.” Spiro essentially threatened that they would take legal action if the proper precautions to ensure safety were not taken, as they were “prepared to pursue all potential avenues to obtain relief for the people living in Mississippi’s prisons and their families.”