Jay-Z-Funded Lawsuits End as Mississippi Improves Prison Conditions

Attorneys hired by Jay-Z and other entertainers have ended two lawsuits they filed on behalf of Mississippi inmates in 2020 over what they said were squalid

living conditions at the state’s oldest prison — a facility that came under Justice Department scrutiny after outbursts of deadly violence by inmates. Even before the

violence at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman in late 2019 and early 2020, state health inspectors had found repeated problems with broken toilets and moldy showers.

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The lawsuits were dismissed Jan. 13 after the inmates’ attorneys and the state Department of Corrections said improvements have been made during the past three years, including

installing air conditioning in most of the prison, renovating some bathrooms and updating the electrical, water and sewer systems. In April, the U.S. Justice

Department issued a report that said Parchman had violated inmates’ constitutional rights. The department said the prison failed to protect inmates from violence, meet their

mental health needs or take adequate steps for suicide prevention, and that the prison had relied too much on prolonged solitary confinement.