At the heart of the suit is the Mississippi State Penitentiary, a maximum-security prison for men located in Parchman.
“Parchman has been understaffed and underfunded for decades. As a result, prisoners endure abhorrent conditions, abuse and constant violence, inadequate health care and mental health care, and overuse of isolation,” the lawsuit alleges.
“The conditions of confinement at Parchman are so barbaric, the deprivation of health and mental health care so extreme, and the defects in security so severe, that the people confined at Parchman live a miserable and hopeless existence confronted daily by imminent risk of substantial harm in violation of their rights under the US Constitution.”
The filing asks the court to implement measures to “eliminate the substantial risk of harm” for inmates.
“While the violence at Parchman is abhorrent, words cannot adequately describe the degree of filth and dilapidation the men at Parchman live in, and lie in, every day,” the filing alleges.
“Were these conditions in existence at an animal shelter, media would swarm, arrests would be made, and those in charge would be on their way to jail as a result of public outrage over this criminal conduct.”
The lawsuit is backed by Team Roc, the social justice division of Roc Nation, the entertainment company created by Jay-Z.
Roc Nation shared a message about the suit on Wednesday on Facebook, writing: “Stop the shameful, inhumane, and unlawful treatment happening in #ParchmanPrison. A second lawsuit has been filed against the [Mississippi Department of Corrections] demanding closure of #Parchman due to the cruel and torturous living conditions. Inmates have been forced to live in deadly environments that lack clean water, adequate food, access to healthcare, among many other basic human necessities.”
Another lawsuit was filed on behalf of 29 inmates in January.
The Independent has contacted the Mississippi Department of Corrections for comment.