The Hub Entertainment Watch list: “Exposing Parchman”
Prison reform in America is an ongoing struggle. The United States government established the prison system in 1891 and passed the “Three Prisons Act,” according to the National Institute of Corrections. Prison populations surged nationwide in the 1990s which lead to a worsening of the conditions within the facilities. Presently, millions of Americans are incarcerated in an inhumane system that can lack proper access to treatment, education or rehabilitation.
With the poor conditions of the prison system, many organizations are working to bring the matter to the forefront. One of those groups includes Jay-Z’s “Roc Nation,” and to shed light on the issue the company has released a new documentary titled, “Exposing Parchman.” Mississippi State Penitentiary (MSP), also known as Parchman, is the state’s oldest Institution, and it opened in 1901. The facility began making headlines in December 2019 after the inhumane environment resulted in high rates of death for those being housed there.
MSP sits on approximately 18,000 acres and contains 2,542 beds, 52 support buildings and seven different housing units, according to the Mississippi Department of Corrections. The facility houses all male offenders who are classified as protective custody, close custody, restrictive housing, extended restrictive housing and death row. Prisoners began to live-stream and record their living conditions which led Team ROC (the company’s social justice and philanthropic arm), the rap mogul himself, fellow rapper-turned-entrepreneur Mario “Yo Gotti” Mims, and a group of lawyers to amplify their stories.
The collective filed multiple lawsuits in their efforts to reform Parchman and the Department of Justice eventually launched an investigation in February of 2020. The DOJ’s investigation found that Parchman violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Now, viewers of “Exposing Parchman” are able to see how it all unfolds as well as hear accounts from relatives of men who have died or been incarcerated at Parchman. There is also input from Congressman Bennie Thompson, activists including Tamika Mallory and Rukia Lumumba and attorneys who worked on the case.
While the conditions at Parchman have improved following the lawsuits and investigation, there is still more work to do as many activists hope to see the facility close completely. The two-hour documentary debuted on June 17 and is available on the A&E app and AETV.com.