Did You Know Jay-Z Funded This Lawsuit To Protect Mississippi Inmates?

Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images for NARAS

It’s the Roc in here! In 2020, Jay-Z and Yo Gotti teamed up with Roc Nation to fund a lawsuit against the state of Mississippi for forcing inmates to live in “squalor.” Now, a federal judge has said the lawsuit has been dismissed after conditions have reportedly improved.

In a span of two weeks from late December 2019 to January 2020, at least five Mississippi inmates died. Four of those deaths occurred due to violence in the prisons, according to state officials. “These deaths are a direct result of Mississippi’s utter disregard for the people it has incarcerated and their constitutional rights,” said Jay-Z’s lawyer Alex Spiro in a statement at the time.

Jay-Z, Yo Gotti (legal name Mario Mims), and Team Roc, the philanthropic arm of Roc Nation, funded attorneys who filed the lawsuits on behalf of the inmates.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) also investigated the Missippi State Penitentiary (also known as Parchman), concluding last April that Parchman had constitutional violations. According to a DOJ statement, the department found that there was “reasonable cause” to believe the state “routinely” violated the rights of those incarcerated by:

  • failing to provide adequate mental health treatment to people with serious mental health needs;
  • failing to take sufficient suicide prevention measures to protect people at risk of self-harm;
  • subjecting people to prolonged isolation in solitary confinement in egregious conditions that place their physical and mental health at substantial risk of serious harm; and
  • failing to protect incarcerated people from violence at the hands of other incarcerated people.

In a statement Monday, Yo Gotti shared, “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.” He continued: “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.”

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