Jay-Z has filed a civil lawsuit against the Mississippi Department of Corrections on behalf of 152 inmates at a state prison, alleging “barbaric” conditions.
Parchman prison is accused of “abhorrent conditions, abuse and constant violence, inadequate health care and mental health care, and overuse of isolation … the people confined at Parchman live a miserable and hopeless existence confronted daily by imminent risk of substantial harm in violation of their rights under the US Constitution”.
Among the problems detailed by the lawsuit and an accompanying documentary film made by Jay-Z’s company Roc Nation are a lack of staffing that has allowed prisoner violence to flourish, sewage-filled cells, contaminated food and water, and a lack of adequate healthcare. Nine inmates have died at the prison so far in 2020.
The suit calls for the Department of Corrections to eliminate health and safety risks within 90 days. The department wouldn’t comment on the suit, but has previously said that violence is gang-related rather than linked to staffing issues.
It is the second lawsuit brought against the prison by Jay-Z, in tandem with fellow rapper Yo Gotti – the pair filed a suit on behalf of 29 other inmates in January.
Jay-Z has frequently involved himself in African American civil rights cases using his philanthropy arm Team Roc, including those of other figures from the rap world. He intervened over 21 Savage’s detainment by immigration officials, and the sentencing of Meek Mill following a probation violation, saying: “What’s happening to Meek Mill is just one example of how our criminal justice system entraps and harasses hundreds of thousands of black people every day.”
He has also reportedly bailed out protesters in Baltimore and Ferguson who were detained during anti-police brutality demonstrations, and has taken on dozens of other cases with civil rights lawyer Alex Spiro.