Attorneys for rapper Yo Gotti, Jay-Z, and Team Roc, Roc Nation's social justice arm, have ended two lawsuits they filed in 2020 on behalf of Mississippi inmates that accused one of the state's oldest prisons of having inhumane living conditions.
According to the Associated Press, the lawsuits against the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman were dismissed earlier this month following improvements to the prison over the past three years.
“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,” Yo Gotti said in a statement on Monday (January 23). “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.”
The lawsuits funded by the rappers and Roc Nation alleged that Parchman "was a violent, rat-infested place where inmates lived in 'abhorrent conditions' and their medical needs were routinely ignored," per AP News.
Even before the suits were filed in 2020, Parchman came under fire for deadly outbursts of violence by inmates. State health inspectors routinely found problems with broken toilets and moldy showers.
The U.S. Justice Department spent two years investigating conditions at Parchman. In April, the department determined that the Mississippi prison violated the constitutional rights of inmates, failing to protect them from violence and meet their mental and physical health needs.
However, Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said that Mississippi Department of Corrections officials cooperated with the probe and pledged to fix the issues. Since the investigation, Parchman has made vast improvements including the installation of air conditioning units, renovations of bathrooms, and an upgrade to the electrical, water, and sewer systems.
“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," Courtney Cockrell, an attorney for the Mississippi Department of Corrections, said in a statement Monday. "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.”