(AllHipHop News) One of the most underreported news stories in the national media is taking place in Mississippi. There will certainly be more attention placed on the rash of deaths happening inside the state’s prisons thanks to Jay-Z and Yo Gotti.
The two rappers are backing legal representation for 29 inmates. Lawyers working with Roc Nation’s philanthropic arm, Team Roc, filed a federal lawsuit in the Northern District of Mississippi on behalf of the incarcerated plaintiffs.
According to CNN, there have been at least five inmate deaths in Mississippi since December. In 2018, the MS Department of Corrections asked the FBI to help investigate 15 inmate deaths that took place in a single month. There have also been complaints of poor living conditions in the correctional facilities.
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Instead of investing in the safety conditions at a place that “has deteriorated to a point that is no longer safe for staff or inmates.”, Mississippi lawmakers are proposing budget cuts to state prisons after the death of an inmate just last week in unit 29 at Parchman. Source: @wmcactionnews5
Team Roc sent a January 9 letter, on behalf of Jay-Z and Yo Gotti, to Department of Corrections Commissioner Pelicia Hall and then-Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant. The letter stated that prison conditions “fail to meet even the most basic human rights” and “people are forced to live in squalor, with rats that crawl over them as they sleep on the floor.”
Commissioner Hall and Superintendent of Mississippi State Penitentiary Marshal Turner are named as defendants in the lawsuit. The suit also cites the recent violent deaths of Walter Gates, Roosevelt Holliman, and Denorris Howell – placing the blame for their murders on the penitentiaries being understaffed.
“The Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment and is violated when prison officials fail to protect against prison-related violence and when prison conditions fail to meet basic human needs,” wrote Jay-Z’s lawyer Alex Spiro in the 1/9 letter.