Last September, Page Six reported Jay-Z’s legal team filed a petition on behalf of federal inmate Valon Vailes to obtain his “compassionate release” from prison. Vailes has been sitting behind bars since 2007 serving a 20-year sentence for intent to distribute marijuana. He hopes Jay, as the owner of the Cannabis company Monogram, can offer assistance in reducing his sentence.
After a review of the case, Jay-Z and Team Roc’s attorney Alex Spiro suggest this is a clear depiction of the government not viewing Vailes “like a human being.”
“And they never were,” the celebrity lawyer told TMZ. “You have to start at the beginning. He’s an African-American man who gets a 20-year sentence for weed.”
Spiro, who also was part of 21 Savage‘s immigration case team, suggested if Vailes were “whiter” the sentencing would be different. He claims the government gave him a number of responses regarding why Vailes could not be released, including COVID-19.
Jay-Z and Team Roc described Vailes as a model inmate, who earned his GED and intended to help his mother raise his mentally ill brother upon release.
TMZ also claimed to have seen documents revealing federal officials halted Vailes’ release for taking “leftover chicken” to his cell. It also alleges Vailes is being held over “ticky-tac” prison offenses.
Vailes detailed the unfortunate happenings that have taken place since his imprisonment in a letter to Jay-Z, which Page Six obtained. He also mentioned changes to his familial situation.
“While incarcerated, I have lost loved ones,” the letter read. “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 … and 3 grand-daughters.”
Change.org has begun a petition to support Vailes’ release from prison, which has received over 20,000 signatures. Since 2007, 36 out of 50 states have legalized marijuana for medicinal or recreational use, including California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Maine, and more.
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