Exposing Parchman directed by Rahman Ali Bugg official trailer and release date
Exposing Parchman directed by Rahman Ali Bugg

The investigative documentary Exposing Parchman explores the ongoing efforts to reform the Mississippi correctional system, led by a team of attorneys on behalf of Parchman Prison’s incarcerated population.

Directed by Rahman Ali Bugg, the three-hour Exposing Parchman documentary premieres with a release date of Saturday, June 17 at 8pm ET/PT on A&E.

Parchman began to make national headlines in December 2019 for its inhumane prison conditions that resulted in massive deaths of incarcerated individuals by homicide, hanging, and untreated illness. In a cry for help, brave and desperate inmates shared prohibited cell phone footage from inside. Team ROC (Roc Nation’s social justice and philanthropic arm), Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter, multiplatinum musician and entrepreneur Mario “Yo Gotti” Mims, and a group of lawyers stepped in to procure legal representation on behalf of 200+ incarcerated men against the Mississippi Department of Corrections. They went on to file multiple lawsuits that prompted the U.S. Justice Department to launch an investigation and found that the Mississippi facility violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

The documentary unpacks Parchman’s disgraceful history, includes interviews with families with loved ones suffering in the decaying prison, and delivers a never-before-seen look at the inside of the notorious facility. Additionally, “Exposing Parchman” examines how the legal team worked closely with Team ROC across three years of legal battles to end the deadly conditions for those incarcerated at Parchman once and for all.

Exposing Parchman includes interviews with Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter, Mario “Yo Gotti” Mims, Congressman Bennie Thompson, activist Tamika Mallory, activist Rukia Lumumba, family members of current and formerly incarcerated men, prison reform activists, the legal team that led the lawsuit, and more.

The United States is the leading incarcerator of its citizens in the world, and those who are incarcerated are disproportionately people of color. The issues at Parchman started when the prison opened in 1904. By exploiting a loophole in the Thirteenth Amendment which abolished slavery “except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted,” Parchman became a cash cow for the state of Mississippi. There was a slaughterhouse, sawmill, canning plant, brickyard, and two cotton gins on prison grounds, and inmates toiled for 15 hours a day under brutal conditions with severe forms of punishment routinely inflicted by prison officials.

Between 1904-1970, Parchman housed 1,800-2,500 inmates, but that figure more than tripled to 6,500 following President Nixon’s War on Drugs and President Clinton’s crime bill. In 1971, a Civil Rights class-action lawsuit, Gates v. Collier, charged that “the deplorable conditions and practices” at Parchman denied the plaintiffs their rights. The lawsuit included a list of murders, rapes, beatings, and tortures at Parchman between 1969-1971 that was over 51 single-spaced pages long. The ACLU filed a number of lawsuits against the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) over inadequate medical care, cruel and unusual punishment, and the brutal conditions of cells that were awash in sewage from broken plumbing, infested with insects, and where temperatures reached 120 degrees. Conditions inside trigger escalating violence and rioting after MDOC calls for a statewide lockdown of prisons.

Watch the official trailer for Exposing Parchman from A&E Network, Roc Nation, ITV America’s Good Caper Content, and Red Summer TV.

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