Well, readers, it turns out that musical torture, i.e. blaring everything from Metallica to Barney The Dinosaur in an attempt to harm incarcerated people, isn't only reserved for interrogations at Guantanamo Bay. On today's episode of why the U.S. prison system is an absolute disaster, Oklahoma County Jail detention officers are under fire after allegedly blasting the 2018 viral hit children's song, "Baby Shark" on a loop for up to two hours, in what investigators are calling an "inhuman" punishment.
Earlier this week, two 21-year-old former detention officers, Cornell Butler Jr. and Christian Charles Miles, and their supervisor, 50-year-old Christopher Raymond Hendershott, were all charged with misdemeanor counts of conspiracy and cruelty to a prisoner, according to Vice News.
From November to December 2019, the ex-officers allegedly subjected at least four incarcerated people to the treatment, forcing them to stand handcuffed and chained to a wall in the attorney visitation room for hours on end. The alleged abuse started as a "joke" between Butler and Miles, investigators said, with The Oklahoman reporting that they played the song on repeat to "teach [incarcerated people] a lesson because they felt that disciplinary action within the Detention Center was not working in correcting the behavior of the inmates."
Although Hendershott knew of this alleged abuse by late November, he "took no immediate action to either aid the inmate victim or discipline the Officers," which even... "appeared to have led to the Officers continuing to mistreat inmates," according to the report.
If you have kids, friends who have kids, or simply own a pair of ears and are over the age of five, you may be asking yourself why the disgraced officers are receiving relatively mild charges. It turns out you're not alone -- even the Oklahoma City District Attorney says he wishes he could do more to punish the trio.
"It was unfortunate that I could not find a felony statute to fit this fact scenario," DA David Prater said of the incident. "I would have preferred filing a felony on this behavior."
Unfortunately, this isn't the first time "Baby Shark" has been used to bully and abuse marginalized people. Last summer, officials in West Palm Beach, Florida, blasted "Baby Shark" and "torturous sound loops" of other children's songs overnight in an attempt to prevent homeless people from sleeping in certain places, according to The Palm Beach Post.
Moral of the story? Don't be a jerk and leave "Baby Shark" for the kids that actually enjoy listening to it for untold hours on end -- not incarcerated people and the homeless.
To learn more about how to dismantle institutional barriers to education for formerly incarcerated people and the "abolish the box" movement, click here. For more rants about reforming the U.S. justice system, follow Carly on Instagram @HuntressThompson_ and on Twitter @TennesAnyone.