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Jay-Z steps in to help endangered Mississippi inmates

Mississippi’s prisons are in crisis — and Jay-Z is stepping up to help, according to msn.com.
Over the past two weeks, five inmates have died in an explosion of prison violence sparked by understaffing and a lack of funding. Facing a spate of riots, gang warfare and general chaos, including a pair of escaped inmates, the state’s Department of Corrections imposed a systemwide lockdown and, though it was lifted last week, the core problems that created such tragedy have not yet come close to being solved.
In response to the deaths and cruel conditions they’ve dealt with while incarcerated, a group of 29 Mississippi inmates has sued the head of the state’s Department of Corrections, Pelicia Hall, and Marshal Turner, superintendent of the state penitentiary.
The prisoners are aided in part by the rappers Jay-Z and Yo Gotti, according to NBC News. Alex Spiro is one of the lawyers representing the group. In 2019, when 21 Savage was arrested by ICE, it was Jay-Z and Spiro who helped fight for his release.
“We cannot treat people this way and it’s time to do something about it,” Spiro told NBC News.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court on Tuesday, states bluntly that “plaintiffs’ lives are in peril,” and it asks the state to affirm their rights to be protected from harm and to develop a practical plan that will minimize the risks they face while in prison.
The lawsuit notes that the population in Mississippi prisons has increased while funding has decreased dramatically, and the results have been disastrous. Nearly half of Mississippi’s prison guard jobs are unfilled, according to the suit, and as a result the buildings are plagued with violence. Prisoners also live in abhorrent conditions where their basic needs aren’t met, according to the lawsuit, which specifically focused on the penitentiary in Parchman, located in the northwest of the state.
The harm caused by these problems finally reached a boiling point earlier this month, leading to multiple stabbings and an unprecedented level of violence in the prisons. According to the suit, so many inmates were injured in Parchman, that there wasn’t enough room in the medical facility to hold them all.
In addition to the lawsuit, Spiro has also sent a letter to Hall and Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant on behalf of Jay-Z and Yo Gotti, according to NBC News. In the letter, Spiro said that he and his team were “prepared to pursue all potential avenues to obtain relief for the people living in Mississippi’s prisons and their families.”
“Roc Nation and its philanthropic arm, Team Roc, demand that Mississippi take immediate steps to remedy this intolerable situation,” he wrote.

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