Earlier this month, Jay-Z, Yo Gotti, and Team ROC helped secure legal representation for 227 inmates at Mississippi’s Parchman Prison, enabling them to file a class action lawsuit against the new Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Nathan Burl Cain and prison healthcare provider Centurion, alleging subpar living conditions at Parchman. According to documents viewed by Pitchfork, on Tuesday (July 28), Centurion served notice that it would be terminating its contract with the Mississippi Department of Corrections on October 5, 2020.
In a memo filed to the Greenville division of the United States District court for the Northern District of Mississippi, Centurion CEO Steven H. Wheeler wrote to Cain that “we 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.”
Several Parchman inmates have submitted sworn COVID-19 questionnaire forms detailing the lack of COVID-19 testing protocol, social distancing, PPE, and more at the penitentiary. The suit alleged several hygiene issues, including a potable water system contaminated with human feces, the presence of black mold, vermin, inmates’ limited access to showers, and more. It also alleged that kitchen facilities and food services at the prison were unacceptable, claiming that a Mississippi Health Department inspection in 2019 had found “containers of dried, spoiled and molded food, flies and other pests in the kitchen,” among other “nauseating” conditions.
Marcy Croft, an attorney with Team ROC, issued the following statement, referencing Centene, Centurion’s parent company:
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.