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Rappers Jay-Z and Yo Gotti are behind a lawsuit targeting Mississippi's prison conditions

Rappers Jay-Z and Yo Gotti helped more than two dozen Mississippi inmates file a lawsuit claiming people are dying because the state "has failed to fund its...

Posted: Jan 16, 2020 2:19 PM

Rappers Jay-Z and Yo Gotti helped more than two dozen Mississippi inmates file a lawsuit claiming people are dying because the state "has failed to fund its prisons."

Yo Gotti and Team Roc-- the philanthropic arm of Jay-Z's entertainment company, Roc Nation -- were able to get legal representation for the inmates to be able to sue, Yo Gotti's publicist Didier Morais told CNN.

There have been at least five prisoner deaths in the state since late December-- four of which were during violent disturbances, officials said earlier this month.

And it's not the first time. In August 2018, Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Pelicia E. Hall asked the FBI to help investigate the deaths of 15 inmates, which all took place within a month.

The new lawsuit called the recent deaths a "culmination of years of severe understaffing and neglect."

"As Mississippi has incarcerated increasing numbers of people, it has dramatically reduced its funding of prisons," the lawsuit says, adding that the underfunding forces inmates to "live in squalor, endangering their physical and mental health."

CNN has reached out to the Mississippi Department of Corrections and Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, who was sworn in Tuesday.

Rappers wrote to Mississippi governor

In a January 9 letter to the governor's office and Hall, Team Roc wrote that if "immediate steps" weren't taken to address the problem, the team was "prepared to pursue all potential avenues to obtain relief for the people living in Mississippi's prisons and their families."

"We cannot treat people this way, and it's time to do something about it," Alex Spiro, who co-signed that letter and also represents the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said.

The prison deaths, the letter says, are a "predictable -- and entirely preventable -- consequences of Mississippi's utter disregard for the people it has incarcerated."

"These inhumane conditions are unconstitutional," it says. "The Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment and is violated when prison officials fail to protect against prison-related violence and when prison conditions fail to meet basic human needs."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 66646

Reported Deaths: 1874
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5599118
DeSoto363230
Harrison249836
Madison241464
Rankin227633
Jackson226942
Jones188558
Forrest177856
Washington164641
Lee142839
Lauderdale140792
Neshoba128592
Lamar120214
Oktibbeha111838
Bolivar110834
Warren108932
Lowndes107437
Panola105412
Sunflower102425
Scott99820
Lafayette96416
Copiah95028
Pike92836
Leflore92562
Holmes89048
Grenada84321
Yazoo82912
Pontotoc8218
Lincoln80941
Simpson79530
Leake78625
Monroe77853
Wayne76421
Coahoma74312
Tate72028
Marshall6889
Marion65720
Union62716
Winston62016
Adams61725
Covington61213
George5595
Newton54211
Pearl River54038
Tallahatchie53010
Attala52125
Walthall49819
Chickasaw45920
Noxubee45311
Alcorn4195
Calhoun4179
Prentiss41710
Tishomingo4095
Claiborne40413
Smith40413
Clay39413
Hancock38814
Jasper3879
Tippah36013
Itawamba35810
Tunica3337
Clarke32625
Montgomery3213
Lawrence3197
Yalobusha31310
Humphreys29111
Quitman2621
Carroll26111
Greene24111
Kemper23214
Perry2327
Jefferson Davis2316
Amite2306
Webster22812
Wilkinson20513
Sharkey1975
Jefferson1957
Stone1944
Benton1431
Choctaw1334
Franklin1242
Issaquena261
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 94827

Reported Deaths: 1674
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson12969243
Mobile9836206
Montgomery6609148
Madison531433
Tuscaloosa419073
Unassigned356061
Baldwin350224
Shelby326035
Marshall313035
Lee266045
Morgan236918
Etowah210431
DeKalb179813
Calhoun176113
Elmore171538
Walker152064
Houston138612
Russell13582
St. Clair132817
Dallas131823
Limestone131813
Franklin127020
Cullman122012
Colbert117113
Lauderdale115717
Autauga108621
Escambia107516
Talladega100913
Jackson9684
Tallapoosa85479
Chambers84038
Dale82723
Blount7884
Chilton7886
Butler75836
Coffee7566
Covington73420
Pike7037
Clarke6629
Barbour5735
Lowndes57124
Marion57024
Marengo55315
Hale47326
Bullock46311
Winston45011
Perry4404
Bibb4265
Wilcox42610
Monroe4194
Randolph39610
Pickens3929
Conecuh38810
Washington38612
Sumter36018
Lawrence3481
Macon33414
Crenshaw3143
Choctaw28112
Cherokee2707
Henry2593
Geneva2570
Clay2525
Greene25011
Lamar2202
Fayette2045
Cleburne1261
Coosa1012
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