Jay-Z is reportedly not happy with federal authorities over their refusal to release an inmate who has been locked up for 14 years on a marijuana conviction. According to TMZ, the veteran rapper and his Team Roc organization allege Valon Vailes is still being held over some “ticky-tac” prison offenses.
Vailes, 56, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2007 for intent to distribute more than one ton of marijuana. He got Jay-Z’s attention last year after he wrote a letter to the 52-year-old asking for his help in his efforts to receive a reduced sentence. The rapper’s Team Roc subsequently took up his case and reportedly filed motions seeking for Vailes to be granted a “compassionate release.”
But in recent court documents, Team Roc claims federal authorities are still holding Vailes over some petty prison offenses. Team Roc attorney Alex Spiro told the news outlet that though Vailes meets the conditions to be granted a compassionate release, federal prosecutors are blocking that because he committed some prison offenses including sneaking leftover chicken from the prison mess to his cell.
Besides that, the documents also made mention of Vailes receiving another strike for using a portion of his prison uniform as “workout equipment.” Jay-Z and Team Roc, however, argue Vailes deserves to be released as he has been a model inmate, adding that he has even received his GED.
Team Roc also said Vailes needs to return home so he can take care of his “mentally ill” brother. Vaile’s brother was under the care of their mother, but she passed away in 2020, TMZ reported.
Spiro said Vailes’ continued incarceration is a manifestation of a broken system, adding that his initial 20-year prison sentence may have been something different if he was “whiter.”
In Vailes’ letter to Jay-Z last year, he opened up on feeling “some kind of way” about serving time for marijuana in the wake of the recent reforms on the drug’s legalization in the United States, Page Six reported.
“It is a bittersweet reality that I am a casualty and a commodity of this system filled with injustice,” he wrote.
Vailes also stressed that his family needs him home. “While incarcerated, I have lost loved ones,” he wrote. “My mother passed in 2020; my grandmother in 2009; my nephew in 2020. Also, my best friend died from COVID in 2021. I have four children, the youngest is 1.4, and 3 grand-daughters.”
“A lot has changed in my life, but most importantly, I have a newfound view of society,” Vailes added. “Therefore, I pledge to my family, my children, and myself that my incarceration would not be in vain.”