Ever since making a name for himself in music, Jay-Z has been committed to giving back. The rapper often rears his head during matters of criminal justice reform and uses the legal side of the organization Team Roc to effectuate change. In February, the rapper teamed up with Yo Gotti and Team Roc to sue Parchman Prison in Mississippi after reports of “inhumane” conditions surfaced from inmates. While the case has been ongoing, there was just a major breakthrough in their push for justice.
Team Roc represented 227 Parchman Prison inmates and filed a class-action lawsuit against the prison’s healthcare provider Centurion. According to documents obtained by Pitchfork, Centurion announced it will be terminating its contract with the Mississippi Department of Corrections this October.
Since Team Roc first filed a lawsuit citing poor conditions and a lack of necessary healthcare, several inmates have submitted questionnaires that show a lack of COVID testing options, social distancing measures, and protective equipment like face masks and latex gloves. The original lawsuit alleged inmates experienced “meals of just a slice of bologna with a packet of mustard, sightings of rats and mold, and nights spent on a mat on a cold, damp floor.”
In a statement filed by Centurion CEO Steven H. Wheeler wrote they “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.”
Marcy Croft, Team ROC’s attorney responded to Wheeler’s 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 Reeves—it’s time to invest in the health and well-being of the people in your prisons. 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.”