Jail Guards Allegedly Used Viral Children's Song 'Baby Shark' to Torment Prisoners

Any parent would agree—being forced to listen to the viral children's song "Baby Shark" countless times, on repeat, could be described as cruel and unusual punishment. Now, two ex-jail guards and their supervisor have been charged with several crimes for allegedly subjecting some prisoners to that exact punishment.

Christian Miles and Greg Butler Jr., who were formerly employed at Oklahoma County Detention Center in Oklahoma City, were charged on Monday with misdemeanor offenses of cruelty to prisoners, corporal punishment to an inmate and conspiracy, for allegedly making inmates listen to hours upon hours of "Baby Shark."

According to probable cause affidavits obtained and reported on by BuzzFeed, Miles and Butler left four inmates in a room on various occasions in November and December 2019 while "Baby Shark" played loudly. The men were ordered to stand with their hands cuffed behind them and attached to a wall, and at least two of the men were subjected to the "inhumane" treatment for two hours straight.

The affidavits claim that Miles and Butler turned the song on as a "joke" and that the overall incident was meant to "teach the inmates a lesson" following their disorderly conduct. However, investigators argued that they put "['Baby Shark'] on a loop to play repetitively aloud...thus putting undue emotional stress on the inmates who were most likely already suffering from physical stressors."

Guards Allegedly Used Song to Torture Prisoners
Hogi, Baby Shark, and Pinkfong perform during "Pinkfong Baby Shark Live!" at Kings Theatre on November 08, 2019, in Brooklyn, New York. Taylor Hill/Getty Images for Baby Shark

Although their supervisor, Christopher Hendershott, was not involved in the act, he was also charged because he was allegedly aware of the guards' treatment of the inmates and failed to investigate inmates' complaints against Miles and Butler.

Officials first became aware of the allegations against Miles and Butler in December 2019, at which time the men were given positions that required contactless interaction with inmates. However, upon the start of the investigation, they left the department.

David Prater, the Oklahoma district attorney who conducted the investigation, told The Oklahoman that he would have issued felony charges if the state's laws called for it.

"It was unfortunate that I could not find a felony statute to fit this fact scenario," Prater said. "I would have preferred filing a felony on this behavior."

Using music as a means of torture is nothing new, unfortunately. The CIA was found to have used music as a "no-touch torture device" against detainees in the 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee torture report. The report found that agents would play the same song loudly over and over again, sometimes for 24 hours on end.

A 2008 report about conditions at Guantanamo Bay said the CIA would play songs at loud volumes on loop to prevent detainees from sleeping and "to create fear, disorient ... and prolong capture shock."