Two former detention officers and their supervisor at the Oklahoma jail have been charged.
Two jail guards in Oklahoma have been charged with misdemeanor cruelty charges after investigators at the facility discovered the pair had been using their own brand of punishment on the prisoners. A former supervisor at the Oklahoma County jail has also been charged for reportedly having known about the practice and looking the other way.
Christian Miles, 21, and Greg Butler Jr., 21, forced inmates to stand in a cell alone, handcuffed to the wall for at least two hours at a time, while they played “Baby Shark” over and over at a high volume. Reportedly, their supervisor, Christopher Hendershott, 50, was well aware of the practice, as well as several inmate complaints about the guards. According to the investigation, Hendershott declined to look into the complaints or to discipline the guards for their actions.
The trio faces multiple misdemeanor charges, including cruelty to prisoners, corporal punishment, and conspiracy.
The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office reports the guards were removed from duty in December 2019; the abuse took place between November and December 2019. According to the Oklahoman, at least four inmates were subjected to the torture. Investigators referred to the idea of being changed to a wall and forced to listen to music as “inhuman,” a practice once employed by CIA agents and considered to be psychological torture.
District Attorney David lamented not being able to charge the trio with felonies, saying, “It was unfortunate that I could not find a felony statute to fit this fact scenario. I would have preferred filing a felony on this behavior."
Investigators report that by playing the song on a repetitive loop likely caused “undue emotional stress on the inmates who were most likely already suffering from physical stressors.”
Buzzfeed News reported that the guards were trying to teach the inmates a lesson and that the practice of chaining them up and torturing them with the music was an ongoing joke between the two. None of them have an attorney listed with the courts, and all three have been removed from or voluntarily left the department during the investigation.
Sheriff P.D. Taylor says the jail does not approve of such behavior or cruel treatment of those under their care.
"We don't tolerate it," Sheriff P.D. Taylor told the Oklahoman. "We always did an excellent job policing ourselves."
The idea of torturing anyone with a song is horrible and takes away from what the song means to the artist and to those who enjoy the music. Though it makes a good horror or psychological thriller plot, this behavior is criminal, and inhumane, and should not be allowed, especially in situations where one person can exert power over another, as in a jail setting.
How do you feel about the choice these two guards made? What do you think is an appropriate consequence for their actions? Sound off in the comments.