Jay-Z, Roc Nation File Federal Lawsuit Against Mississippi Prison Officials for Violent Conditions, 'Failure to Meet Basic Human Rights'

Illustration for article titled Jay-Z, Roc Nation File Federal Lawsuit Against Mississippi Prison Officials for Violent Conditions, 'Failure to Meet Basic Human Rights'
Photo: Craig Barritt (Getty Images for Something in the Water)

I’ve never spent a day of my life in prison, but after a recent rash of stabbings and violent attacks led to the deaths of five inmates housed at the Mississippi State Penitentiary, I’m pretty sure there’s a blatant disregard for the safety of those being kept behind bars. Evidently, Jay-Z feels the same way, and on Tuesday, he followed through on his threat to file a federal lawsuit in order to ensure that the situation is properly addressed.


NBC News reports that the lawsuit, which names Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Pelicia Hall and Mississippi State Penitentiary Superintendent Marshall Turner as defendants, was filed on behalf of 29 prisoners who claim Hall and Turner have done absolutely nothing to curtail the violence destroying the state’s oldest institution from within.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed by Jay-Z’s lawyer Alex Spiro, “these deaths are a direct result of Mississippi’s utter disregard for the people it has incarcerated and their constitutional rights.”

For those out the loop, here’s a small glimpse into the unabated violence festering inside of the Mississippi State Penitentiary, courtesy of NBC News:

Denorris Howell, 36, sustained a neck injury in a fatal attack following an altercation with his cellmate, Sunflower County Coroner Heather Burton said. Howell had been serving a 17-year sentence for manslaughter. The condition of his cellmate was not immediately known.

Howell’s death is the third at Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman this week and the fifth to occur at a state prison since Sunday, when a 40-year-old inmate’s killing prompted a statewide lockdown of facilities, which is continuing through the weekend.

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

In a letter that was sent to Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant on behalf of Jay-Z and “Down in the DM” rapper Yo Gotti, Spiro made it clear that Roc Nation is fully prepared “to pursue all potential avenues to obtain relief for the people living in Mississippi’s prisons and their families.”


All that to say, the Mississippi Department of Corrections done fucked with the wrong ones and it will be interesting to see if this lawsuit prompts others throughout the country.

Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for ya'll to stop putting sugar in grits.


Nunna Yorz - American Justice Is A Joke

I’d love it so much if this was the kind of thing Jay-Z chose to focus on rather than cozying up to the NFL.

But it is what it is. Hopefully this will lead to some positive changes in MS’s prison system and save some lives.