Social media: that wonderful place where you can argue with loved ones, alienate friends by posting bizarre ideas about politics, and possibly lose your job because you're posting too dang hard. The latest viral craze to get some fools in trouble with their bosses is the #FeelingCute challenge — a meme where users post they're "feeling cute" and about to do something wild at work.
For at least four Florida prison guards, "feeling cute" apparently meant committing acts of hypothetical violence or abusing inmates. After the Houston Chronicle, Phoenix New Times, and other newspapers caught local corrections officers and cops bragging about everything from pepper-spraying inmates to gassing prisoners to stalking drivers, Miami New Times found four instances of Florida Department of Corrections officers posting memes about how they'd like to commit acts of violence or abuse. In each case, the officers posted selfies while wearing their official FDC uniforms.
"Feeling cute might shoulder lock take down your prison husband...idk," one FDC guard, Keora Smith, wrote April 15.
"#feltcutechallenge working towards LT. But also may put one on property restriction/privilege suspension while I'm at it..." another guard, Eddie Kosiorek, wrote, referencing ways correctional officers are allowed to punish misbehaving inmates.
"Feeling cute.. might toss your baby daddy's locker!" said officer Steph Barber, using slang for the act of dumping the contents of a prisoner's locker full of personal items.
In the most egregious case, one officer from Ormond Beach, Corey Dorman, appeared to joke about shooting someone.
"Feelin cute.. might shoot to stop later..IDK," he captioned a selfie in his car with his rifle propped up in the background.
In response, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Corrections told New Times the department had launched investigations into each incident. Through a spokesperson, FDC Director Mark Inch said he did not approve of the messages relayed in the Facebook posts.
“As public servants, our officers and staff must be held to the highest standards of ethical behavior both on- and off-duty,” he said. “My expectation of our officers is to ensure public safety and uphold public trust. These social media posts are against the core values of our profession and will not be tolerated.”
The statement came mere hours after the Tallahassee Democrat reported that a lawyer for the FDC, Eric Giunta, had resigned over racist comments he made on Facebook saying black people have a penchant for “raping, murdering, vandalizing,” and “having children out of wedlock.”
The Houston Chronicle first reported on the social media challenge last week. On April 16, reporter Keri Blakinger, herself a former inmate, caught multiple guards posting while in their Texas Department of Criminal Justice uniforms. Two guards joked about wantonly gassing inmates. In all, six officers were under investigation for posting inappropriate images as part of the viral challenge, Texas officials said. On Tuesday, the Chronicle reported four of the guards were fired and the remaining two resigned.
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Many of the prison guards posted their images in the Facebook group Correctional Officer Life, which has nearly 30,000 members. Since the Chronicle's story came out, news agencies in other states have also caught prison guards from Georgia, Oklahoma, and Missouri posting inappropriate or offensive statements.
Yesterday, Phoenix New Times — Miami New Times' sister paper — caught four Arizona guards making similarly gross #FeelingCute statements. One woman joked about "pepper spraying" someone's "baby daddy." A member of the Yuma County Sheriff's Office wrote he might "flip a U-turn and ride your bumper for 5 miles later just to freak you out later, IDK."
In response, the Arizona Department of Corrections said it had disciplined two officers for posting inappropriate content.