A children’s song became an instrument of cruelty at an Oklahoma County jail, according to reports.
A report by The Oklahoman, said that on Monday, two former Oklahoma County jail guards and their supervisor were charged with several crimes for forcing inmates to stand for hours while listening to the popular children’s song “Baby Shark,” at loud volumes.
BuzzFeed News reported that according to probable cause affidavits provided to them, in November and December last year, guards Christian Miles and Greg Butler Jr., both 21, forced four inmates to listen to the song on repeat, while standing alone, handcuffed to a wall in rooms at the Oklahoma County Detention Center. According to the report, there were at least two inmates who were forced to stand for two hours, the report cited.
Investigators wrote that the song was put “on a loop to play repetitively aloud…thus putting undue emotional stress on the inmates who were most likely already suffering from physical stressors,” the report cited.
According to the investigators, “The playing of the music was said to be a joke” between the guards, the report cited, and its purpose was to try to discipline the inmates and “teach them a lesson.”
The BuzzFeed News report noted that this type of activity is a “form of psychological torture.” During the George W. Bush administration, music played on repeat for hours was used by CIA agents, according to a 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee report.
The guards’ shift commander failed to respond to complaints.
According to the affidavit, although the guards’ shift commander, Christopher Hendershott, 50, was reportedly aware of the guards’ practice, as well as many inmate complaints against them, he failed to discipline the pair or conduct any investigation, the report cited.
Hendershott, Miles and Butler “have been charged with the misdemeanor offenses of cruelty to prisoners, corporal punishment to an inmate, and conspiracy,” the report said.
According to the report, online court records revealed no attorneys were listed for the trio.
What action was taken by the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office?
According to an Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson, when officials learned of the allegations last December, the guards’ contact with inmates was revoked, the report cited.
During the investigation, the report said all three guards “voluntarily left the department.”
The Oklahoman newspaper, which was first to report the charges, quoted Sheriff P.D. Taylor, who told them, “We don’t tolerate it,” he said. “We always did an excellent job policing ourselves.”