Yo Gotti has issued a warning to Mississippi's governor: Improve the safety conditions of state prisons or face legal action.
The Memphis rapper and Team Roc—Roc Nation's philanthropic/social justice division—sent a letter to Gov. Phil Bryant on Friday, in the wake of deadly violence plaguing Mississippi State prisons. The letter, obtained by TMZ, calls on lawmakers to rectify the inhumane conditions at these facilities. Gotti and Team Roc say male and female prisoners are "forced to live in squalor, with rats that crawl over them as they sleep on the floor, having been denied even a mattress for a cot." They go on to say that the conditions are so horrendous that they violate the Eighth Amendment clause that prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.
Mississippi state leaders have come under fire over a surge of prison violence that has allegedly gone unchecked. This past week, there have been multiple riots, two escapes, and five deaths—three of which have occurred at the Mississippi State Penitentiary, aka Parchman Farm, which is about 90 miles south of Gotti's hometown of Memphis.
"The conditions in the prisons operated by the Mississippi Department of Corrections are absolutely inhumane and unconstitutional," Gotti said in statement to Complex. "To see this happen so close to my hometown of Memphis is truly devastating. That’s why we’re calling on Mississippi state leaders to take immediate action and rectify this issue. If they don’t right this wrong, we’re prepared to take legal action to provide relief for those that are incarcerated and their families."
Many have blamed the Mississippi Department of Corrections for the increased violence, citing a lack of funding and staffing shortages. However, Gov. Bryant insists inmates are responsible for the recent deaths—not his administration.
"The inmates are the ones that take each other’s lives," he told reporters, according the New York Times. "The inmates are the ones who fashion weapons out of metal. The inmates are the ones who do the damage to the very rooms they are living in there. You look to the inmates."