The lawsuits were dismissed after the attorneys and the state’s Department of Corrections said that improvements were made at the facilities, including adding air conditioning, bathroom renovations, and updated electrical systems.
“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 to Billboard Monday. “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.”
In April, the U.S. Justice Department said that the prison facility had violated the inmates’ rights, that it had failed to protect inmates from violence, that it hadn’t addressed their mental health needs, and that the prison had relied on solitary confinement, per Billboard.
The original lawsuit was filed in January 2020 against Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Felicia Hall and Superintendent of the Mississippi State Penitentiary of Parchman Marshal Turner on behalf of 29 inmates.
“Plaintiffs’ lives are in peril,” read the original lawsuit. “Individuals held in Mississippi’s prisons are dying because Mississippi has failed to fund its prisons, resulting in prisons where violence reigns because prisons are understaffed. In the past two weeks alone, five men incarcerated in Mississippi have died as the result of prison violence. These deaths are a direct result of Mississippi’s utter disregard for the people it has incarcerated and their constitutional rights.”
Before the lawsuit was filed, Jay-Z and Yo Gotti wrote a letter to then-Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, which threatened to take legal action if the state’s prison conditions were not adequately improved.
“They share the common injustice of being in a facility that’s inhumane,” attorney Alex Spiro said at the time. “We lock these people up and forget about them. I’m hopeful that these sorts of actions give them hope and give them oversight to a prison system that desperately needed it.”