Jay-Z-funded lawsuits end as Mississippi improves prison

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — 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. Inmates said some cell doors did not lock, and it was common to see rats and roaches. 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. The Justice Department spent two years investigating Parchman. Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said in April that

Mississippi Department of Corrections officials cooperated with the investigation and pledged to resolve problems.