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Team ROC, the social justice division of Roc Nation led by Jay-Z and Yo Gotti, has dropped its lawsuit against Mississippi State Penitentiary (also known as Parchman) following several notable upgrades to the facility.
In January 2020, the pair secured legal representation for more than 200 inmates at the state prison following allegations made by the prisoner that their rights were consistently violated while incarcerated. Inmates submitted sworn Covid-19 questionnaires that stated a lack of testing protocol, social distancing and PPE. The suit also alleged various hygiene issues, such as water contaminated with human feces, black mold, vermin and limited shower access. A second lawsuit was filed on behalf of 152 additional inmates suffering inhumane conditions at Parchman prison, stating the lack of funding and inadequate staffing over the years caused “prisoners to endure abhorrent conditions, abuse and constant violence, inadequate health care and mental health care, and overuse of isolation.”
The suit continued: “The conditions of confinement at Parchman are so barbaric, the deprivation of health and mental healthcare so extreme, and the defects in security so severe, that the inmates confined at Parchman live a miserable and hopeless existence confronted daily by imminent risk of substantial harm in violation of their rights under the U.S. Constitution.”
The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division eventually launched investigations into Parchman and three other Mississippi penitentiaries. Over the past two years, Parchman has taken steps to improve the living conditions — enough to make the rappers halt their legal fight.
“We are pleased with the changes made to date and the improvements in the day to day lives of the guys’ inside,” said attorney Jordan Siev, a partner at Reed Smith LLP in New York working with Team Roc. “But we’re also cognizant of the fact that Parchman has had a long history of lawsuits, improvements and then backsliding conditions.”
Siev added that while Team Roc is pleased with the improvements, they were “also not going to take our foot off the gas.”