Yo Gotti and Jay-Z’s Team Roc are suing Mississippi prison officials over “inhumane” prison conditions, Clarion Ledger reports. The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday against Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Pelicia Hall and Superintendent of the Mississippi State Penitentiary of Parchman Marshal Turner on behalf of 29 inmates.
“Plaintiffs’ lives are in peril,” the lawsuit states per the Clarion Ledger. “Individuals held in Mississippi’s prisons are dying because Mississippi has failed to fund its prisons, resulting in prisons where violence reigns because prisons are understaffed. In the past two weeks alone, five men incarcerated in Mississippi have died as the result of prison violence. These deaths are a direct result of Mississippi’s utter disregard for the people it has incarcerated and their constitutional rights.”
In addition to the deaths, there are an unknown number of individuals who were wounded during the recent outbreak of violence.
The complaint accuses the prison official defendants of failing “to protect against prison-related violence and when prison conditions fail to meet basic human needs.” It claims the inmates’ Eighth Amendment rights are being violated. Due to the inadequate funding that has led to prisons being understaffed, violence is prevalent and inmates “live in squalor, endangering their physical and mental health.” According to the complaint, black mold, rat and mice infestations, flooding, and units with no running water or electricity for days at a time are among the deplorable conditions inmates are subjected to.
The lawsuit requests a judge to order the defendants to enact policies that will protect inmates from violence, provide an adequate amount of properly trained staff as well as provide safe and clean conditions along with other basic human needs.
Last week, Jay-Z and Yo Gotti penned a letter to then-Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, which threatened to take legal action if the state’s prison conditions were not adequately improved. Attorney Alex Spiro, who represents Team Roc, the philanthropic division of Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, told Clarion Ledger that the plaintiffs are located at Parchman, which is where much of the recent violence has occurred.
“They share the common injustice of being in a facility that’s inhumane,” Spiro said. “We lock these people up and forget about them. I’m hopeful that these sorts of actions give them hope and give them oversight to a prison system that desperately needed it.”