Oklahoma inmates tortured with Baby Shark song on loop?

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Former inmates have filed a civil lawsuit claiming they were tortured by jail officials in Oklahoma — who forced them to listen to the nursery song Baby Shark for hours.

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Two jail officials and their supervisor were indeed criminally charged over this alleged conduct in October 2020.

The lawsuit was filed on Nov. 2, 2021 on behalf of four inmates and claims the men were subjected to “cruel and inhumane punishment” at the Oklahoma County Jail in 2019.

Ja’Lee Foreman Jr., Daniel Hedrick, Joseph Mitchell and John Basco were held pre-trial at the facility in 2019 where they claim they were put into standing stress positions and forced to listen to Baby Shark, on repeat, for hours.

Those discipline tactics are described as “torture events” in the federal civil rights lawsuit.

Named as defendants were Oklahoma County Sheriff Tommie Johnson III, the board of county commissioners, the jail trust and two former jail officers.

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NBC news reported that according to the lawsuit, the jail officers had a history of mistreatment that was known to supervisors but nothing was done to stop them.

The suit claims that Joseph Mitchell was taken from his jail cell on Nov. 30 and put into a room where he was forced into a standing stress position for three or four hours. His hands were cuffed behind his back.

Baby Shark was then played at high volume and on a loop for the duration.

John Basco and Daniel Hedrick were likewise mistreated; the lawsuit calls the two officers involved “wanton, depraved and sadistic.”

Although spared the song, Ja’Lee Foreman Jr. was also placed in a stress position, physically abused, and spat upon. 

Two former jail employees and their supervisor were charged in October 2020 with misdemeanor cruelty charges over this practice; the officers resigned, and the supervisor retired.

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At the time, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said he was only sorry he couldn’t find a felony statute to cover the scenario: “I would have preferred filing a felony on this behaviour.”

Prater is quoted in the lawsuit, saying the use of Baby Shark against the inmates is “cruel and inhumane,” and that it put undue stress on inmates. 

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The lawsuit also cites an expert who explains why the music can be hard to take.

According to clinical psychologist John Mayer, “Certain pitches hit the auditory receptors in ways that are physiologically painful. These are high-pitched tones and screechy elongated sounds, like nails across a blackboard.”

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