UPDATED 7/31, 9:30 a.m. ET: Jay-Z, Yo Gotti, and Team Roc have won a crucial victory in their legal battle against the Mississippi Department of Corrections.
Healthcare provider Centene has now ended its relationship with Parchman Farm and MDOC, and will relinquish its responsibilities to another healthcare company. Since Dec. 29, 2019, Centene’s questionable medical care led to 53 deaths in MDOC, 25 of which were at Parchman.
With this key win, Hov and Gotti will continue to apply pressure on Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves to prioritize the health of incarcerated men and to offer more solid healthcare resources in Parchman and in all of MDOC’s facilities.
“We hope that Centene’s decision to end its relationship with the Mississippi Department of Corrections sends a clear message to Gov. Tate Reeves—it’s time to invest in the health and well-being of the people in your prisons,” Team Roc attorney Marcy Croft said in a statement. “There is no excuse for the 53 deaths across the Mississippi prison system over the past several months, many of which were preventable. We will not stop until the incarcerated receive consistent and competent medical care, especially now with the COVID-19 crisis. This must be a priority.”
See original story below.
Jay-Z, Yo Gotti, and Team Roc have been involved in an ongoing battle over the conditions of the Mississippi Department of Corrections’ Parchman Farm, with Team Roc representing the inmates in their lawsuit against Mississippi corrections officials.
The Clarion Ledger has released an investigative report on the treatment of Parchman prisoners, after sifting through hundreds of pages of court documents, which include expert reports, handwritten statements by inmates, and excerpts of prisoner interviews. All of the documents were provided by Jay-Z and Yo Gotti's "attorneys and experts," according to a press release.
Hov and Gotti’s inquiry discovered that inmates often end up threatening self-harm, flooding cells, and setting fires in order to actually receive help when a resident is severely injured or sick. Previous instances include a diabetic patient who hadn’t gotten insulin for three days and a man who was urinating blood.
It was found that that food is “undercooked, or spoiled, covered in insects or rat feces, if delivered at all." The report also alleges that "water that inmates drink and use to wash their clothes is brown and foul-smelling." Some cells don’t have running water, so prisoners have to urinate or defecate in plastic bags.
In the past, officers have given keys and weapons to gang-affiliated inmates so that they can assault or kill rival gang members. Access to healthcare is dangerously inadequate, with some inmates revealing that they didn’t have follow-up appointments, even when they were symptomatic for conditions like colon cancer, tuberculosis, and a brain tumor.
“Inmates claim access to consistent and competent medical care is hampered by a corrupt and indifferent system,” the Ledger writes. “Men reportedly frequently have trouble obtaining sick call slips needed to request appointments because the supply runs out. Oftentimes it can take several days for the patient to be seen, if at all. Guards regularly fail to transport men to their doctor's appointments, resulting in treatment being delayed. Some people claim officers charge unofficial transportation fees of up to $150.”
Parchman’s conditions are certainly not conducive to a pandemic, particularly as COVID-19 cases in Mississippi surge and inmates live in close quarters. MDOC reported over 100 staff and inmates have contracted the virus.
Team Roc’s lawsuit arises from riots that took place at Parchman in January, which drew more eyes to MDOC, where more inmates die than in almost any other prison system in the country.
Hov and Gotti once again sued Mississippi officials in early July as a COVID outbreak hit the prison, after having already sued MDOC in February and January. In response to the court filing, the Mississippi Department of Corrections deemed the allegations to be “exaggerations,” claiming that the findings are based on data and information that’s five months old and isn’t indicative of current conditions.
“Most of the conditions observed by Plaintiffs in February were caused in large part by an extraordinary, deadly gang disruption in late December 2019 and early January 2020. Since that time... conditions at MSP have drastically improved, and the conditions will continue to improve under current Mississippi Department of Corrections leadership,” the agency said in court documents.
In February, a judge gave Jay-Z and Gotti permission to send medical experts into Parchman, where they evaluated the conditions, interviewed inmates, and took photos in order to present their discoveries to the court.