It sounds like an episode of “Prison Break” gone terribly wrong: 1,500 orange-suited inmates — plus one ponytailed prisoner in mules and a halter top — doing a perfectly choreographed re-creation of Michael Jackson‘s “Thriller” video.
But a Filipino security consultant hoped to turn Jackson’s “Thriller” into a symbol of prisoner reform, and with nearly 11 million hits, a video spawned by the effort is already a big draw on YouTube.
The video of the grooving inmates at Cebu Detention and Rehabilitation Center was uploaded in July by Byron Garcia, a security consultant working at the Cebu provincial government.
Garcia introduced dancing to the detention center in 2006. Inmates — most of them behind bars for serious crimes such as murder, rape and drug trafficking — have also done dance versions of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” and various Village People tracks.
He’d even hoped to showcase the success of the rehabilitation program by having the prisoners perform at the local Sinulog festival on Jan. 20. To reduce flight risk, just 100 prisoners would perform at the city’s sports complex, with a guard assigned to each.
Not surprisingly, local officials told him to, um, beat it.
“I will not allow it even if Michael Jackson joins them,” Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmena told the Philippine News Agency. “In jail, the inmates can dance all they want.”