Justice Department agrees with Jay-Z, Yo-Gotti, deems conditions at Mississippi prison unconstitutional

The DOJ's findings detail how the facility violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments

The Justice Department has wrapped an investigation into inmate conditions at the Mississippi State Penitentiary, also known as Parchman, and concluded that the prison violated several constitutional rights. 

According to CNN, the findings detail how the facility violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments by failing to provide adequate mental health treatment, failing to protect individuals at risk of self-harm, subjecting inmates to prolonged stints in solitary confinement, and failing to protect incarcerated individuals from violent inmates.

As reported previously by theGrio, the investigation was launched in February 2020 after Jay-Z, Yo Gotti, and Team ROC filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of 227 Mississippi inmates addressing the dire conditions for prisoners during the COVID-19 lockdown. The suit also points out that even prior to the pandemic the prison was understaffed or underfunded for decades, which culminated in “barbaric” conditions that allegedly also include abuse and “constant” violence.

Mississippi State Prison
Traffic moves past the front of the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

“The situation in Parchman is dire. More and more of the incarcerated population are reaching out for help and pleading for immediate medical attention, especially as the coronavirus threatens their lives,” Gotti (born Mario Mims) previously said in a statement.

“Mississippi Governor Reeves, Commissioner Burl Cain, and Centene — as the parent company of Parchman’s healthcare provider Centurion — can’t continue to neglect this tragedy and let the death toll rise,” the rapper continued. “We will hold them accountable and fight for the rights of the incarcerated.”

According to the Justice Department’s report, twelve incarcerated people at Parchman have died by suicide in the past three years and ten were victims of homicide. 

“The Constitution guarantees that all people incarcerated in jails and prisons are treated humanely, that reasonable measures are taken to keep them safe, and that they receive necessary mental health care, treatment, and services to address their needs,” Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division Kristen Clarke said. 

thegrio.com Jay-Z
LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 12: Hip Hop Artists Yo Gotti and Jay-Z during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS)

“Our investigation uncovered evidence of systemic violations that have generated a violent and unsafe environment for people incarcerated at Parchman. We are committed to taking action that will ensure the safety of all people held at Parchman and other state prison facilities,” Clarke added.

The department is still investigating similar allegations at the Southern Mississippi Correctional Institution, Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, and Wilkinson County Correctional Facility, according to the report. 

“My heart goes out to the incarcerated men who have suffered without access to clean water, food and healthcare and the families that tragically lost loved ones in the process,” said Yo Gotti in a statement in response to the DOJ’s findings, TMZ reports.

“I will continue to stand up for the voiceless until they receive justice they deserve. I’m grateful for the U.S. Department of Justice’s thorough report to hold the Mississippi Department of Corrections accountable for the cruel and inhumane treatment of the incarcerated population,” he said.

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