Jan. 15 (UPI) — Entertainment mogul Jay-Z has filed a lawsuit against Mississippi prison officials after the deaths of five inmates in the past two weeks.
The suit, filed in Greenville, Miss., on Tuesday, names Mississippi corrections chief Pelicia Hall and Parchman Penitentiary Superintendent Marshal Turner as defendants. It was filed on behalf of 29 inmates in the state penal system who say authorities have done nothing to stem violence inside prison walls.
Jay-Z and rap artist Yo Gotti sent a letter this month to both Hall and Gov. Phil Bryant calling for change in the penitentiary system, and threatening the suit. It mentions squalor in the prison system, staffing shortages and a denial of prisoners’ rights.
The lawsuit cites violations of Eighth Amendment rights and identifies conditions within the Parchman facility.
“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.”