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Push by Jay-Z and Yo Gotti Proves to Be Effective Amid Ongoing Lawsuit Against Mississippi Prison System

The work of rappers Jay-Z and Yo Gotti and Team ROC to obtain proper resources for prison inmates is proving to be successful after a key medical provider reportedly has indicated it will end its relationship with one of the prisons as a result of the conditions there. Among other things, Team ROC works to bring awareness to issues of injustice. 

According to Pitchfork, on Saturday, Aug. 1, the media outlet acquired documents stating that health-care provider Centurion was set to terminate its contract with Parchman Farm correctional facility on October 5, 2020. 

Jay-Z and Yo Gotti’s lawsuit leads prison health-care provider to part ways with Mississippi prison. (Photo by Lester Cohen/Getty Images for NARAS)

In a memo filed to the Greenville division of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, Centurion CEO Steven H. Wheeler wrote to Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Nathan Burl Cain regarding the termination. “We do not believe we can further improve the effectiveness of our level of care without additional investment from the Department in correctional staffing and infrastructure along the lines of what we have already recommended,” Wheeler expressed.

Marcy Croft, Team ROC’s attorney, responded with a statement saying, “We hope that Centene’s decision to end its relationship with the Mississippi Department of Corrections sends a clear message to Governor Tate Reevesn—it’s time to invest in the health and well-being of the people in your prisons.” Centene is Centurion’s parent company.

As previously reported, since January 2020, Jay-Z and Gotti have collectively helped more than 227 inmates secure legal representation to file a class-action lawsuit against Mississippi’s Department of Corrections Commissioner Pelicia Hall and Mississippi State Penitentiary Superintendent Marshall Turner. 

Details of the suit claim that inmates at Parchman were being exposed to inhumane living conditions while incarcerated, including complaints of low staffing. There were also complaints that inmates were able to commit violent assaults against each other without interference.  

In July 2020, the two rappers hired outside medical experts to further inspect the correctional facility where they discovered that prisoners were receiving subpar health care. As a result, many inmates were found to be suffering from untreated severe health conditions. There were also grievances that procedures were not put in place to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus amid the pandemic.

Jay-Z and Yo Gotti’s efforts also included taking out a full-page ad in The New York Times, where they issued an open letter to Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves. “There have been nearly two-dozen senseless deaths since December 29, along with countless injuries and untold cases of mental and physical terrorism inflicted upon the inmates,” the letter read. “Given those tragedies, if you don’t act decisively, Parchman will soon be the site of a human catastrophe the likes of which the United States hasn’t seen in a generation.”

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