UPDATED 1/16, 10:35 a.m. ET: According to CBS News, Yo Gotti will be holding a prison reform rally in Mississippi to support the 29 inmates who are suing state officials over "inhumane" prison conditions.
"We're in the process right now of setting up a whole rally down there, so the word is being heard," Yo Gotti told the outlet. "We're trying to make sure that they feel us and that they feel we're trying to do something about it."
The rally is expected to take place next week.
See original story below.
Yo Gotti was not bluffing.
The Memphis rapper and Team Roc—the philanthropic division of Roc Nation—have procured legal representation for 29 inmates who are suing state officials over "inhumane" prison conditions, the Clarion Ledger reports. Gotti and Team Roc sent a letter to Gov. Phil Bryant last week, threatening to take legal action against the state if the conditions were not promptly and adequately improved. The letter was issued in wake of five recent Mississippi prison deaths, three of which occurred in the first week of January at state penitentiary Parchman Farm.
"The conditions in the prisons operated by the Mississippi Department of Corrections are absolutely inhumane and unconstitutional," Gotti said in statement to Complex last week. "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."
On Tuesday, the 29 inmates filed a civil rights lawsuit against Pelicia Hall, the Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner, and Marshal Turner, the Superintendent of the Mississippi State Penitentiary. The plaintiffs are being represented by Ellyde R. Thompson, Joshua Stanton, and Alex Spiro, who has handled a number of legal cases assisted by Team Roc.
The complaint, obtained by Complex, accuses the defendants of failing to protect prison inmates from extreme violence and "dangerous environmental conditions," such as exposure to mold, wiring, unsafe drinking water, and vermin. Attorneys state the conditions are so horrendous that they constitute cruel and unusual punishment—a violation of the Eighth Amendment.
"Plaintiffs lives are in peril. 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," the suit reads. "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.
"This unthinkable spate of deaths is the culmination of years of severe understaffing and neglect at Mississippi’s prisons. As Mississippi has incarcerated increasing numbers of people, it has dramatically reduced its funding of prisons. Nearly half of the prison guard slots for Mississippi’s prison remain unfilled."
The plaintiffs are asking a judge to declare defendants' actions and omissions as violations of the constitutions; order the plaintiffs to implement policies that will eliminate harmful risks within the prisons; as well as issue judgement that will be determined at trial. Plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages as well as legal fees.
"The lives of countless individuals in Mississippi prisons are at stake and we will not stop until this is fixed," Gotti said.
Stay tuned as more information about the case becomes available.
Gotti is now gearing up to release the follow-up to his 2017 album, I Still Am. The rapper confirmed the project's imminent drop during while on stage with Moneybagg Yo last week.
"We told them we going to drop a whole lot of CMG shit this year, right?" Gotti asked Bagg, who just delivered his Time Served project. "You just dropped your shit today, right? I’m officially dropping my album this month too, fuck it."
Check out the announcement below.