Jay-Z, Yo Gotti, and Team ROC Petition Courts to Force Mississippi’s Parchman Prison to Follow COVID-19 Guidelines

Jay-Z, Yo Gotti, and Team ROC Petition Courts to Force Mississippi’s Parchman Prison to Follow COVID-19 Guidelines

Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter and Mario “Yo Gotti” Mims are highlighting the inhumane conditions at Mississippi State Penitentiary, aka Parchman Farm, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The rappers are asking courts to compel the notorious prison to adhere to strict COVID-19 testing and compliance guidelines in legal documents filed by Team ROC, the legal arm of Carter’s Roc Nation entertainment agency, which represents Mims as well as other artists and athletes. The filings come after the rappers and their attorneys discovered that only 132 of the 2,034 individuals incarcerated at Parchman had been tested for COVID-19 as of July 30. The results revealed that 33% tested positive for the virus while one person died last weekend, according to documents obtained by BLACK ENTERPRISE.

Mississippi State Penitentiary Parchman
Mississippi State Penitentiary main entrance (Wikimedia Commons)

According to Team ROC, cases at the state penitentiary continue to rise and Parchman personnel are putting inmates’ lives at risk. The lawyers argue that the prison failed to isolate infected inmates and that three prisoners who had tests pending were recklessly transferred to different units occupied by others who were not suspected of carrying the virus. Their test results later revealed that the three men were carrying the virus.

Team ROC also claims Parchman employees do not “verbally screen attorney visitors, and did not screen staff at the entrance to the facility.” The attorneys go on to accuse some prison employees of not wearing personal protective equipment. Furthermore, they argue that inmates were not informed about the Mississippi Department of Corrections’ copay waiver and that some inmates with COVID-19 symptoms have been physically threatened when bringing their health issues to correctional officers.

In a statement, Team ROC attorney Marcy Craft blames Parchman’s high infection rate and virus-related death on the prison’s noncompliance with coronavirus guidelines.

“It’s a travesty that Parchman continues to neglect the lives of the people in their prisons and expose them to the deadly COVID-19 virus,” said Croft.  “Not only are they failing to comply with the basic COVID-19 prevention and testing protocols, but they’re recklessly spreading the virus within the prison by housing infected people with healthy ones. We even have concerns that our attorneys may have been exposed while visiting Parchman, which is why we’re calling for immediate transparency and stricter compliance.”

Earlier this year, Carter and Mims’ team filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of dozens of people locked inside Parchman over “barbaric” prison conditions and “deprivation” of healthcare.