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Jay-Z Files Federal Lawsuit On Behalf Of Mississippi Prisoners Over Inhumane Prison Conditions

On Tuesday, music and business mogul Jay-Z sued the head of the Mississippi Department of Corrections and the warden of the penitentiary on behalf of 29 prisoners who say nothing has been done to stop the violence that left five inmates dead in the past two weeks.

“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.

The suit names DOC Commissioner Pelicia Hall and Mississippi State Penitentiary Superintendent Marshall Turner as defendants.

“We cannot treat people this way and it’s time to do something about it,” Spiro of the Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP law firm, said in a statement to NBC News.

The suit comes after a letter from Spiro was sent to Hall and governor of Mississippi on Jan. 9. The letter, which protested the “inhumane conditions in prisons operated by the Mississippi Department of Corrections”, was sent on behalf of Jay-Z and hip-hop artist Yo Gotti.

Spiro said they were “prepared to pursue all potential avenues to obtain relief for the people living in Mississippi’s prisons and their families.”

“This unthinkable spate of deaths is the culmination of years of severe understaffing and neglect at Mississippi’s prisons,” Spiro’s 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.”

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“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.

“Walter Gates, an inmate of Unit 29E at Parchman was stabbed multiple times the night of New Year’s Eve, and pronounced dead just after midnight,” the suit states. “Roosevelt Holliman was stabbed to death in a fight the next day. And Denorris Howell, an inmate of Unit 291 at Parchman was stabbed multiple times and pronounced dead the day after that.”

Spiro closed with a warning: “Roc Nation and its philanthropic arm, Team Roc, demand that Mississippi take immediate steps to remedy this intolerable situation.”

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16 comments

brotherap January 15, 2020 at 10:31 am

This is a shame. This is the type of despair that perpetuates a feeling of no-hope and breeds perpetual violence inside and back on the streets if they can get there. A federal judge should mandate that this prison is shut down immediately and these prisoners moved to other states or federal facilities if necessary. This is a violation of the 8th Amendment of the US Constitution that forbids torture and inhumane treatment.

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Marqueta Thomas January 15, 2020 at 5:29 pm

Its about time someone truly recognize what’s going on instead of ignoring the photos and letters that are being sent out. Jay-Z i commend you, because your caring will never go unnoticeable, those MEN inside those walls and their family are crying tears of joy because someone is standing up for what is right. Even a dog get treated better than the way they are treating them individual human being inside those walls. Now I truly see those who become rich and famous still have a heart, and forget where they come from. Someone who knows what its like to not have nothing and these guys are not receiving and don’t have nothing but they family to fight for them, got you as a person who domt know them to do what yout doing to help and support whats right is Awesome. Even i, myself whos a strong individual who had to shed tears from the letters and photos. Simply because, that could have been my father, bro, uncle, bestie or husband and wouldnt want them to be treated like that. The food they are being feed and those are beds are sad. Thank You for standing up for what is right❗

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Steve Burnside January 15, 2020 at 5:57 pm

Appreciate your service Jay Z and Yo Gotti for your outstanding support in the cause of justice on behalf of our fellow brothers of the struggle.no members of any organization should engage in such acts of treachery against any organization especially when allegedly instigated by correctional officers.

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Jay-Z Files Federal Lawsuit On Behalf Of Mississippi Prisoners Over Inhumane Prison Conditions | Lokol Buzz January 15, 2020 at 10:52 am

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Jacqueline Jones January 15, 2020 at 11:26 am

Im am a concerned parent of an inmate Jawarzski Jones #117859 that I have yet to hear confirmation about my son’s well being. I couldnt get thru parchman? So I had to go down to the capital to the protest. There I met a lawyer name CJ. He listened to my story? & gave me his number? But he was turned around at the gate they wasn’t letting no one in.. I finally got intouch with house representative that did get me info on his where abouts? & that was he was in building 42(hospital) dont no was wrong or how long ? Dont no if he was shot /stabbed or what? He has health issues type 2 diabetic. I just need confirmation that my son is ok or not?? Please help? My name is Ms Jacqueline Jones #6019180862

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Jamie January 15, 2020 at 11:32 am

Just ridiculous the way MDOC has no regards of these inmates. YES do the time but to live in that environment where your life is in danger daily and the living conditions are just NASTY…. Unit 29 is a deaf sentence Parchman needs to be closed and the other prisons are bad but not as bad as Parchman…. I have friends that are currently locked up who fear there life. Marshall County is bad as well ppl fear for there life. Caseworkers are always unavailable

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Leslie January 15, 2020 at 12:12 pm

I commend Jay Z and Yo Gotti💯💯💯💯💯

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William January 15, 2020 at 1:30 pm

I am a white male concervative and I commend you Jay-z on your efforts to protect valuble human lives. I am now a fan of Jay-Z. Prison is a controlled environment and it could be, and should be the safest place on earth.

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JP Maurice January 15, 2020 at 1:50 pm

Much respect , gratitude, and thanks to Jay – Z for stepping up…,.please don’t stop there. THANK YOU Jay- Z……thank you…

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Ragoo January 15, 2020 at 3:25 pm

Much respect Hov!!!!!
#lovewhatyourdoing4dapeople

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Alicia January 16, 2020 at 12:06 am

Thank you 🙏🏼 for using your platform to save lives and get justice for the men that have been killed – The living conditions I’m sure would make most people snap – sending love in light to the men in there – The man who posted this you are a hero also – No one deserves this – in Arizona they damn near fry us in the woman’s prison with no proper coolers The cooler unit is to small to cool people down and people are dying from neglect -the cells are boxes outside on Santa Maria Santa Cruz and Lumley in good year az -can someone look into the conditions there to please – The prison is called perryville

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Drea50 January 16, 2020 at 12:16 am

This is priceless, so glad your touchable ❤️

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Dorothy Simmons Gable January 16, 2020 at 1:00 am

Hello my name is Dorothy Simmons Gable I have a son in Parchman his name is Darryl Simmons #151731 he was sent from Rankin County Prison to PArchman prison when the killings started and they put my son in 29 where all this started they told my son we sending you over here so they can kill him and nobody ain’t going to miss you nigger you just another bigger and I been calling trying to get my child some help and still haven’t heard from my son Please help us my number is+12283131053 please somebody help us!!!!!

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shawna January 16, 2020 at 11:03 am Reply
Patricia Loyd January 16, 2020 at 1:11 pm

My older brother is there. I’ve been trying to get permission to see him for years. Not once have I recieved ANY replies from anyone. It is awful!

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Mississippi Governor Calls For Parchman Unit 29 Cell Block To Be Shut Down: "I've seen enough" | Lokol Buzz January 31, 2020 at 12:12 pm

[…] filed a federal lawsuit alleging the conditions at the prison are unconstitutional. Music artists Jay-Z and Yo Gotti stepped up and said they would pay for the lawyers in the […]

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