Memphis rapper Yo Gotti and Team ROC will pay for the funeral and autopsy for an inmate at a Mississippi prison. According to WJTV, Chadarion Henderson, 26, was found dead at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman on August 1. He was moved to the facility in July to finish his prison sentence. The inmate allegedly told his mother he feared for his life. Henderson was serving out a 5-year-sentence after being convicted of burglary.
Henderson’s mother claimed to have reached out to the prison for the circumstances surrounding her son’s death without answers. The Mississippi Department of Corrections has not released any information. The outlet reported he was found unresponsive in his cell. According to Team ROC, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation has launched an investigation.
“The Henderson family deserves immediate answers regarding the circumstances around Chadarion’s sudden death as a 26-year-old. The lack of clarity and accountability is appalling and it’s no coincidence that the Mississippi Department of Corrections has averaged eight deaths per month since Dec. 2019. This is an absolute tragedy,” Team ROC told WJTV.
Team ROC and Yo Gotti along with Jay-Z have worked for years to change conditions at Parchman. As VIBE reported in January 2020, the collective filed a lawsuit against the prison over inhumane conditions. According to the report, the facility was understaffed and underfunded forcing inmates to live in cells with black mold, sewage floods, dirty water, rodent infestations, and deadly violence.
In February 2020, a second lawsuit was filed on behalf of imprisoned populations at the same location. The lawsuit was filed against the Mississippi Department of Corrections on behalf of 152 inmates at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman citing the unlivable conditions.
“[Inmates] insert their own catheters, treat their own stab wounds, vomit up blood, teeter on the verge of diabetic comas, and suffer through seizures without medical care,” one statement read.
Once the coronavirus pandemic hit in March 2020, Yo Gotti and Team ROC moved to demand Parchman provide COVID-19 testing for inmates in a legal filing. In addition to immediate testing for those in the prison, the motion called for a 14-day quarantine for new inmates, as well as quarantines for inmates who test positive for COVID-19, exhibit symptoms, or experienced direct exposure to the highly contagious disease.
Billboard reported in July 2020, Jay-Z, Yo Gotti, and Roc Nation filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of over 200 Mississippi inmates against Department of Corrections Commissioner Nathan Burl Cain and Centurion, the healthcare provider for all Mississippi prisons. The lawsuit was a direct effort to address the conditions prisoners in lockdown faced during the pandemic.
“The situation in Parchman [is] dire. More and more of the incarcerated population are reaching out for help and pleading for immediate medical attention, especially as the coronavirus threatens their lives,” said the “Touchdown” rapper in a statement to the outlet.” He continued, “Mississippi Governor Reeves, Commissioner Burl Cain and Centene — as the parent company of Parchman’s healthcare provider Centurion — can’t continue to neglect this tragedy and let the death toll rise. We will hold them accountable and fight for the rights of the incarcerated.”
According to the Clarion-Ledger, Madeleine LaMarre, a nurse practitioner hired by Team ROC to review the conditions at Parchman, found sanitation, use of PPE such as masks, social distancing, and other measures that are supposed to be in place were not being followed.
“The conditions of confinement were the worst I had ever witnessed, including lack of adequate sanitation and disinfection that would promote the transmission of COVID-19 to inmates and staff,” she wrote in a court document the Ledger reported.
FWD.us, a bipartisan political organization, reported as of November 2020, the Mississippi Department of Corrections has confirmed at least 871 positive COVID-19 cases within Department custody and privately operated prisons across the entire state.