Jay-Z is fighting for Mississippi inmates

Jay-Z is suing Mississippi prisons over inhumane conditions that have left multiple prisoners dead. We spoke with his attorney, Alex Spiro, to learn more.

Team Roc, the philanthropic division of Roc Nation, released graphic video footage depicting the inhumane conditions within Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman

Jay-Z and rapper Yo Gotti are suing Mississippi prison officials over alleged inhumane conditions that have left multiple prisoners dead. Jay-Z’s attorney Alex Spiro filed the suit on behalf of 29 inmates. Jay-Z has been an advocate for criminal justice reform. In January 2019, he launched the Reform Alliance with rapper Meek Mill aimed at changing parole and probation policies. Now his Mississippi lawsuit comes after at least 8 inmates have died at the Parchman prison in January 2020 alone. 3 men were killed by other inmates.

The conditions are bad partly because of the underfunding and the understaffing of the prison

“These civil rights cases are important for Mr. Carter and Roc Nation because they have a particular voice and the ability to make a change and they can draw on their vast resources to try to bring about civil rights change. When we realized that conditions in the Mississippi prisons were as dire as they were and that these folks have been forgotten, we felt that required urgent and aggressive action. The prisoners' lives are endangered principally for two reasons. One is that because of violence within the prison walls, there have been deaths and inmates have received injuries that have gone untreated because the staff cannot get them to medical care in time. And the second reason is the environmental conditions that the sewage and other infectious disease risks put their lives in mortal danger”, Jay-Z’s attorney Alex Spiro tells Brut.

Committed to fighting these issues

The Mississippi Department of Corrections has blamed gang violence for the deaths. But the lawsuit says the violence stems from underfunding, overcrowding, and a guard shortage. The lawsuit seeks damages for the prisoners and an order forcing the department to protect inmates from violence by increasing its staff size, and also provide safe and clean conditions free from filth and vermin.