Jay-Z Sues Again: Life in Miss. Prison Is 'Barbaric'

Suit describes 'nonexistent' health care, food tainted with rat feces at Parchman in Mississippi
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 27, 2020 9:40 AM CST
Jay-Z Sues Again: Life in Miss. Prison Is 'Barbaric'
This is a July 12, 2002, file photo of the entrance to the Mississippi State Penitentiary, aka Parchman, in Mississippi.   (AP Photo/Rogelio Solis, File)

The reported last words of an inmate who died by suicide at Mississippi State Penitentiary last month were, "I'm tired of this s---. They don't care about me or my food." Now, 152 inmates are suing the state's only maximum-security prison for men, known as Parchman, saying they're in "constant peril" in a domain "so barbaric" that prisoners treat their own stab wounds and suffer seizures without medication, all while dining on food tainted with rat feces, per NBC News. The lawsuit was filed with help from rappers Jay-Z and Yo Gotti, who last month sued the warden and the head of the state Department of Corrections on behalf of 29 inmates in Parchman's Unit 29, per the Clarion-Ledger. Gov. Tate Reeves vowed to close the unit, which boasts nonfunctioning toilets, sinks, and lights, after a prison tour in January. "There is no excuse," he said, per NBC. "We can do better."

The proposed class-action suit filed Wednesday claims there's one guard for every 160 inmates and that these guards fail to intervene in violent encounters—a video released by Jay-Z's Roc Nation shows evidence of this—and even allow inmates to enter cells at night to carry out assaults. It also describes virtually "non-existent" mental health care and severely lacking medical care, so that "broken bones ... and a host of other injuries and maladies routinely go without examination," per CBS News. The DOJ this month announced a review of conditions at four state prisons, including Parchman, following protests over 18 deaths in state prisons since Dec. 29. But the inmates are asking the US District Court in Greenville to maintain full jurisdiction of the prison until the DOC "[ensures] a safe, livable environment." They want the DOC to release a plan to address the many issues within 90 days. (More Mississippi stories.)

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