The prisoners say authorities have done nothing to stem violence that has left five inmates dead in the past two weeks, according to NBC News.
The lawsuit was filed by Jigga’s attorney Alex Spiro on Tuesday (Jan. 14) at the U.S. District Court in Greenville, Mississippi, and names Mississippi corrections chief Pelicia Hall and Parchman Penitentiary Superintendent Marshal Turner as defendants.
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Jay Z and Yo Gotti threatened to sue Mississippi prisons over “inhumane” conditions, reports @clarionledger, saying inmates “live in squalor, with rats that crawl over them as they sleep.”
Groups report rampant understaffing, with 5 inmates killed by violence this month. pic.twitter.com/IdvmsAN9n7
— AJ+ (@ajplus) January 13, 2020
Spiro said, “These deaths are a direct result of Mississippi’s utter disregard for the people it has incarcerated and their constitutional rights.”
He told NBC News in a statement: “This unthinkable spate of deaths is the culmination of years of severe understaffing and neglect at Mississippi’s prisons. 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.”
Spiro added, “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.”
Jay-Z and rap artist Yo Gotti fired off a letter to both Hall and Gov. Phil Bryant calling for change in the penitentiary system, and threatening to sue over violations of Eighth Amendment rights. The lawsuit cites conditions within the Parchman facility such as a denial of prisoners’ rights.
“Plaintiffs’ lives are in peril,” the 11-page suit states. “Individuals in Mississippi’s prisons are dying because Mississippi has failed to fund its prisons, resulting in prisons where violence reigns.
“Parchman, a maximum security prison built on the site of a former plantation, has only one-quarter of the corrections officers it needs. Without adequate guards, prisons are plagued with violence, with incarcerated people fearing for their lives. In the first week of 2020, three men died at Parchman alone.”
Spiro said, “We cannot treat people this way and it’s time to do something about it.”