Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter and Mario “Yo Gotti” Mim, along with Roc Nation’s social justice division known as Team Roc, have been bringing awareness to the inhumane conditions inside Mississippi State Penitentiary for years. The Hip Hop moguls’ efforts helped to ignite a federal investigation into the correctional facility also known as Parchman Farm.
On Wednesday, the United States Department of Justice concluded there is reasonable cause to believe that conditions and practices at the Mississippi State Penitentiary violate the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
Some of the violations cited by the DOJ include failure to provide adequate mental health treatment, failure to take sufficient suicide prevention measures, subjecting people to prolonged isolation in solitary confinement, and failure to protect incarcerated people from violence by other incarcerated people.
“On behalf of Team Roc, we are pleased to see the Department of Justice recognize the horrific conditions in Mississippi’s prisons. Because of the inhumane conditions, we filed lawsuits in Mississippi to help protect the men living inside the infamous Parchman prison,” says Desiree Perez, Roc Nation CEO.
Perez continues, “For years, the incarcerated population has been forced to live inside rat-infested conditions and survive with a water system contaminated with human feces all with non-existent healthcare resources available to them. Over the past three years, the death toll has been utterly devastating and we hope today’s report brings many families and their loved ones one step closer toward getting the justice they deserve. We applaud the Department of Justice for their report.”
Jay-Z & Yo Gotti Started Calling Out Parchman Prison Two Years Ago
Back in early 2020, Jay-Z, Yo Gotti, and Team Roc hired lawyers to represent incarcerated individuals in a lawsuit against the Mississippi Department of Corrections. The legal action came after five people died in the state’s prisons during a one-month period.
Later that year, attorneys and medical experts working with Jay-Z, Yo Gotti, and Team Roc uncovered the unsanitary and unsafe quality of Parchman. Video footage and photographs showed inmates were subject to foul-smelling water, dilapidated restrooms, flooded floors, exposed wires, and other inexcusable situations.
In addition, Jay and Gotti’s public pressure pushed the Centene healthcare corporation to terminate its multimillion-dollar partnership with Parchman and the Mississippi Department of Corrections. The Roc Nation-affiliated rappers also had to press Parchman officials to adhere to strict COVID-19 testing and compliance guidelines during the pandemic.
The DOJ Is Investigating Several Facilities Run By The Mississippi Department of Corrections
“The Constitution guarantees that all people incarcerated in jails and prisons are treated humanely, that reasonable measures are taken to keep them safe, and that they receive necessary mental health care, treatment, and services to address their needs,” says Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Civil Rights Division.
Clarke continues, “Our investigation uncovered evidence of systemic violations that have generated a violent and unsafe environment for people incarcerated at Parchman. We are committed to taking action that will ensure the safety of all people held at Parchman and other state prison facilities. We look forward to working with state officials to institute comprehensive reforms.”
The Justice Department’s investigation into Parchman Farm began in February 2020. Inquiries into conditions at Southern Mississippi Correctional Institution, Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, and Wilkinson County Correctional Facility are ongoing.
“Our office is dedicated to defending the civil rights of all our district’s residents, including those who are incarcerated. We look forward to continuing to work with the Mississippi Department of Corrections to protect the civil rights of those incarcerated at Parchman,” states U.S. Attorney Clay Joyner for the Northern District of Mississippi.