JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi once again in the national spotlight as celebrities and civil rights advocates focus on the state's prison system.
Hip-hop artists and criminal justice advocates are reaching out to state officials demanding changes at Parchman and even threatening to take legal action.
But will the national spotlight result in changes at the institution?
Rappers JAY-Z and Yo Gotti, AKA Mario Mims of Memphis, have written Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant and Commissioner Pelicia Hall about the conditions at Parchman following the violence, deaths and reports of inmates living in filth.
The celebrities are calling for an immediate remedy to situations at Parchman.
Yo Gotti, who is signed to JAY-Z’s Roc Nation label, released this statement.
“The conditions in the prisons operated by the Mississippi Department of Corrections are absolutely inhumane and unconstitutional. To see this happen so close to my hometown of Memphis is truly devastating. That’s why we’re calling on Mississippi state leaders to take immediate action and rectify this issue. If they don’t right this wrong, we’re prepared to take legal action to provide relief for those that are incarcerated and their families.”
Justice League NYC co-founder, New York attorney Angelo Pinto, traveled to Mississippi to shed light on Parchman.
“We’ve had countless family members reach out to us and share concerns and say they haven’t been able to hear from their loved ones who have health issues,” said Pinto. “They’re concerned for their safety, and we want to be able to lift the voices of those families and the folks who can not speak for themselves behind bars.”
Mississippi’s NAACP filed a complaint with the Justice Department after receiving nearly 100 messages requesting an investigation into the prison system.
“We’re in a crisis. This is not something that just happened,” said MS NAACP Executive Director Dr. Corey Wiggins. “This is something that our leaders for a long time have let happen under their watch and I think calling out and asking the governor, and I would ask the state legislature and the lt. governor to address these issues is very important.”
We reached out to Governor Bryant for comment on the letter and demand.
His spokesperson River Orman said they have not made a comment on the letter.