FILE PHOTO: Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, a founding partner of Reform Alliance, a newly formed organization to reform the U.S. criminal justice system, waves during the Reform Alliance launch event in New York City, New York., U.S., January 23, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar
(Reuters) – Rapper Jay-Z on Tuesday sued two Mississippi prison officials on behalf of 29 inmates who say authorities did nothing to stop violence that has killed five prisoners in the last two weeks, NBC News reported.
The lawsuit, filed by Jay-Z’s lawyer Alex Spiro in the U.S. District Court in Greenville, Mississippi, says “these deaths are a direct result of Mississippi’s utter disregard for the people it has incarcerated and their constitutional rights,” according to the report nbcnews.to/2tmTUm7.
Spiro, on behalf of Jay-Z and hip-hop artist Yo Gotti, wrote a letter to Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant and DOC Commissoner Pelicia Hall dated Jan. 9 saying that they were “prepared to pursue all potential avenues to obtain relief for the people living in Mississippi’s prisons and their families,” according to NBC News.
The letter added that the deaths were as a result of years of severe understaffing and neglect at Mississippi’s prisons, NBC said.
“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,” NBC reported, citing the contents of the letter.
The lawsuit, filed against the head of the Mississippi Department of Corrections and the warden of the state penitentiary in Parchman, seeks damages for the prisoners and an order forcing the department to address the issues, mainly by increasing staff and cleaning up sewage, celebrity website TMZ reported bit.ly/3a5ExPz.
The Mississippi Department of Corrections and Spiro’s law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.
Reporting by Rama Venkat in Bengaluru, Editing by William Maclean