‘Will hold them accountable’: Jay-Z and Yo Gotti-backed lawsuits end as Mississippi improves prison
JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI: The efforts made by Jay-Z and other entertainers in an effort to improve the living conditions in prison in Mississippi are bearing results. The Parchman facility, which is labeled as the state’s oldest prison has a poor setup and came under the scanner of the Justice Department after an outburst of fatal violence by inmates. Now, the attorneys hired by some of the artists on behalf of inmates have taken down lawsuits after progress was made by the authorities to improve the conditions. “We’re pleased that Parchman has started to address the cruel and inhumane prison conditions after the Department of Justice’s investigation, but we aren’t satisfied with short-term improvements,” Mario Mims, who is popularly known as Yo Gotti, said on Monday, January 23, in a statement.
“The Mississippi Department of Corrections has neglected these torturous living conditions for decades, so we will continue to hold them accountable and ensure they commit to creating long-lasting change that safely protects their incarcerated population.” One of the lawsuits was filed in January 2020 and the other lawsuit that ended was filed a month later. However, both of them were later merged into one. As per the second suit, “Parchman was a violent, rat-infested place where inmates lived in ‘abhorrent conditions’ and their medical needs were routinely ignored.”
Courtney Cockrell, an attorney for the department, said in a statement on Monday, “the Mississippi Department of Corrections appreciates the tremendous responsibility of housing individuals sentenced to our care, custody, and control and has always been committed to continuously improving the living conditions of the individuals housed in all of our correctional facilities, including the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman," The representative added, "Accordingly, we have and will continue to make diligent efforts to improve the quality of life for all individuals in the custody of the MDOC and provide them with opportunities to successfully return to their communities.”
In the inspection carried out by the Justice Department last year, it found ‘gross understaffing’ and ‘uncontrolled gang activity,’ while unsatisfactory security allowed inmates ‘unfettered access to contraband,’ reports ABC News. The controversial prison at Parchman was established in 1901, and it was earlier used as a plantation site. This meant most of the inmates worked in a farming operation, which was claimed by activists to be equal to slavery.