August 15, 2020

Artists JAY-Z, Yo Gotti file second lawsuit over Mississippi prison conditions

Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter, Mario “Yo Gotti” Mims and Team ROC – the philanthropic arm of Roc Nation – have procured legal representation for 150+ inmates and have filed a second, civil lawsuit against the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

With the lawsuit, Carter, Mims and Team ROC are calling for the court to order the Mississippi Department of Corrections to immediately address the barbaric prison conditions at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman and develop a plan that will eliminate the health and safety risks for inmates within 90 days.

Inmates at Parchman have been forced to live in deadly environments that lack clean water, adequate food, electricity, heat, access to healthcare and clothing, among many other basic human necessities. Visuals of the inhumane conditions at Parchman can be viewed at http://teamroc.io/mspsa – please be advised of the graphic content.

The 150+ inmates elaborated on their deplorable living situations in detail, noting in the lawsuit:

  • “Many times, the food is adulterated with rat feces, cockroaches, rocks, bird droppings, and other foreign matter.”
  • “The toilets routinely back up and flood the prison cells, which allows fecal matter, urine and water to cover the floors and drain out into the housing unit’s common space…the portable water system at Parchman is contaminated with human feces, presumably from the sewer system.”
  • “Prisoner-on-prisoner violence is rampant, and, at times, is facilitated by corrupt guards seeking to curry favor with inmates. Plaintiffs have witnessed instances where guards have provided cell keys to inmates so they could assault, and sometimes kill, other inmates.”
  • “Many inmates, including Plaintiffs, are in dire need of medical care for cancer, lupus, serious heart defects, Rheumatoid Arthritis, deteriorating joints and muscles, swollen prostate glands, and open, festering wounds.”
  • “[Inmates] insert their own catheters, treat their own stab wounds, vomit up blood, teeter on the verge of diabetic comas, and suffer through seizures without medical care. Even a broken neck can go without treatment at Parchman, with the inmate being left to suffer through his injury while sleeping on exposed, steel bedsprings with no mattress.”
  • “So bad is the medical care at Parchman that inmates have resorted to lighting fires in conditions of total confinement, where escape from smoke and flames is impossible, simply to draw attention to emergent medical issues occurring in the housing units.”

Due to these cruel and torturous living conditions, internal riots have surfaced at Parchman since December 29, 2019 and at least nine inmate deaths have occurred because of suicides, homicides and miscellaneous cases that have classified as “natural deaths.”

As part of this lawsuit, Carter, Mims, Team ROC and the 150+ inmates are asking the court to retain full jurisdiction of the Parchman Penitentiary until the Department of Corrections have fully remedied the situation and ensured a safe, livable environment.

Today’s filing follows a previous lawsuit that JAY-Z, Yo Gotti and Team ROC submitted in early-January on behalf of 29 inmates against the Mississippi Department of Corrections, paving the way for the Department of Justice to launch an investigation into Parchman.

JAY-Z is an American rapper, music producer and songwriter.

Yo Gotti is an American rap music artist from Memphis.