Jay-Z and Yo Gotti Help Inmates File Lawsuit About Terrible Prison Conditions
Mississippi prisons have reputations as filthy and overcrowded places with deplorable conditions for prisoners. Unfortunately, the prisons generally live up to their reputation. This is especially true in the case of Parchman prison where nine inmates have died just this year alone. Now, there are high-profile lawsuits that have been filed against the Mississippi Department of Corrections on behalf of inmates that must live in the squalid conditions. The most recent lawsuit has been funded by Jay-Z and Yo Gotti who have adopted the cause of the prisoners. The hope is that the combination of legal pressure and media attention can force Mississippi to take action about the conditions at the infamous prison.
The lawsuit details some of the horrific conditions that prisoners are forced to contend with during their daily lives in jail. According to the complaint, conditions at the prison are worse than those at an animal shelter. The lawsuit seeks to have the state clean up the conditions at the prison within 90 days.
Inmates Face Numerous Threats Every Day
Prisoners at Parchman must deal with numerous threats to their health and safety on a daily basis. The first serious problem that inmates face is the threat of violence from their fellow inmates. So far, three inmates have died in violent incidents since the start of 2020. Prison guards either cannot or do not control the level of violence in the prison, leaving the prisoners at risk.
When the prison guards do get involved, it is to abuse the inmates. There are many reports of physical abuse at the hands of the guards in the prison with many reported beatings over the years. Guards reportedly treat prisoners in a dehumanizing fashion.
Prisoners who are violent are moved to a special unit in the prison. This unit has been condemned due to the horrific conditions. The area routinely floods and it is infested with roaches and vermin. The state is in the process of closing this part of the prison but has not been able to do so yet. Video smuggled out of the prison gives an indication of the squalid conditions that prisoners face in this area of Parchman. The video shows the presence of heavy mold and no beds for inmates. This unit is where much of the worst violence in the prison occurs.
At the same time, medical treatment for the inmates is practically non-existent. Many prisoners experience a degeneration in their overall health because minor ailments get much worse without any treatment. The lawsuit claims that inmates insert their own catheters and treat their own stab wounds because they have a complete lack of access to medical care. One inmate had a broken neck go untreated and was left to sleep on a steel bedframe with no mattress.
The food that is served is unsanitary to say the least. The lawsuit claims that the food is undercooked and inedible. Sometimes, there are things such as rat feces in the food. The meals are often spoiled and inmates routinely find cockroaches in the food.
Horrible Prison Conditions Can Violate Constitutional Rights
The legal grounds for the class action lawsuits are that the conditions at the prison violate the inmates' constitutional rights. The barbaric conditions at Parchman would constitute cruel and unusual punishment which is barred by the Constitution. The lawsuit cites understaffing and neglect as the reasons for the horrid conditions. The Eighth Amendment of the Constitution would require that prison conditions meet the inmates basic human needs.
Even though the Governor of Mississippi fully accepts responsibility for the problems at Parchman, the issues still persist. The lawsuit would force the state's hand to make changes in the short-term.
Jay-Z and Yo Gotti are finding this legal effort as part of their focus on the criminal justice system. Where conditions such as these may have gone unnoticed years ago, there is increasing attention paid to some of the injustice in the system. Jay-Z is also spearheading a media campaign designed to pressure the governor to take immediate action. Even though the governor has acknowledged that the state can do better, the Department of Corrections still blames the issues at the prison on gang violence. In the meantime, the legal system is one of the few options left for prisoners to try to force a change in the horrid conditions that they face on a daily basis.
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