In the “feeling cute” challenge, people share a photo of themselves at their jobs or in their work uniforms along with “feeling cute,” followed by a joke about their job. Some of them have gone viral, with police officers in fields of flowers.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesperson Jeremy Desel told PEOPLE magazine, in a statement, that employees are being investigated for their posts. Four officers have been fired and two resigned.
“These officers in no way represent the thousands of TDCJ employees who go to work every day taking public safety seriously in all ways.”
Prison guards across several states took it one step too far in a now private Facebook group called “Correctional Officer Life,” the Houston Chronicle reported. The group has about 30,000 members and describes itself as a place to “discuss, share, socialize and study experiences in officers’ life from all over the world,” according to the Washington Post.
But, instead of being funny, the posts sparked outrage with their violent and sometimes racist undertones. Currently, at least four state corrections departments are investigating employees accused of taking part in the challenge in offensive ways.
“Feeling cute, might shoot your baby daddy today . . . idk.”
“Feeling cute, might take your homeboy to the hole later.”
“Feeling cute, I’m still going to lock you down.”
Other captions ranged from jokes about using Tasers or other force on inmates to planting drugs on them or putting them into solitary confinement.
The people behind some of the posts were officers from Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Missouri. Two people who posted memes that talked about “feeling cute” and gassing inmates to current prison employees in Texas.
Prison officials from Texas, Georgia, and Oklahoma are looking into the posts, according to the Washington Post.
In Oklahoma, prison employees have been “reprimanded,” though no other systems, as of yet, have reported action being taken against the officers.
While the “feeling cute” challenge was meant to be a joke, the violence and racism underlying the posts highlight numerous recent investigations into prisons across the country that have revealed horrific abuse, from denying mentally ill inmates water to sexual assault against female inmates.
This month, prisons in Alabama were given 49 days to fix their broken system, complete with rampant stabbings, rapes, overdoses, beatings, and rats.