Jay-Z Leads Lawsuit to Reform Mississippi Prison

The lawsuit addresses unsanitary conditions at Parchman Prison

2020 Roc Nation THE BRUNCH - Inside
Jay-Z attends 2020 Roc Nation THE BRUNCH on January 25, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Roc Nation
By Tobias Carroll / July 13, 2020 7:00 am

As the spread of COVID-19 across the United States has become more clear, certain spaces have emerged as hotspots for the coronavirus to spread. Among them: prisons. A June report in The New York Times noted a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in prisons across the country.

Now, steps are being taken to address one particular hotspot — and they’re being led by one of music’s most recognizable names. At Pitchfork, Madison Bloom reports that Jay-Z, Yo Gotti and Team ROC have filed a lawsuit on behalf of over 200 inmates in Mississippi’s Parchman Prison.

As the article notes, the lawsuit argues that conditions at the prison are utterly harrowing:

The complaint alleges that Parchman Prison has been “understaffed and underfunded for decades,” which has resulted in inadequate healthcare (physical and mental), the overuse of isolation, and “constant violence.” The lawsuit also cites multiple alleged hygiene issues within Parchman Prison, including a potable water system contaminated with human feces, the presence of black mold, vermin, inmates’ limited access to showers, and more.

In addition to the lawsuit, a number of sworn questionnaires completed by inmates attest to the lack of COVID-19 testing at the prison.

The lawsuit requests that the defendants — in this case, Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Nathan Burl Cain and prison healthcare provider Centurion — come up with and implement a plan to address these conditions within 90 days.

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