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A former Oklahoma corrections supervisor who promoted White supremacist assaults on three Black inmates has been sentenced by a federal judge.
Former Kay County corrections officer supervisor Matthew Ware, 53, was sentenced Monday by a federal judge to 46 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for violating the civil rights of three Black pretrial detainees.
“This defendant is being held accountable for abusing his position of power and authority to, among other things, facilitate an attack carried out by white supremacists on a Black inmate,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This sentence handed down reflects the seriousness of the defendant’s actions and ensures accountability for his unlawful conduct. The Justice Department will continue to hold corrections officials accountable, including those in leadership positions, when they willfully violate the constitutional rights of detainees and inmates in their custody and control.”
Former Oklahoma Supervisory Correctional Officer Sentenced for Promoting White Supremacist Assault on Black Inmates and Ordering Other Abusehttps://t.co/17yXs1Kuki
— DOJ Civil Rights (@CivilRights) December 5, 2022
In April, a federal jury convicted Matthew Ware of willfully depriving two Black pretrial detainees of their right to be free from a corrections officer’s deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of serious harm and of willfully depriving a third Black pretrial detainee of the right to be free from a corrections officer’s use of excessive force.
Oklahoma Corrections Officer Supervisor Convicted For White Supremacist Assault
The evidence and testimony revealed that on May 18, 2017, while Ware served as the Lieutenant of the Kay County Detention Center, he ordered lower-ranking corrections officers to move two Black pretrial detainees, D’Angelo Wilson and Marcus Miller, to a cell row housing white supremacist inmates whom Ware knew posed a danger to Wilson and Miller.
Later that same day, Ware gave lower-ranking officers a second order: to unlock the jail cells of Wilson and Miller, and those other white supremacist inmates at the same time the following morning. When Ware’s orders were followed, the White supremacist inmates attacked Wilson and Miller, resulting in physical injury to both, including a facial laceration to Wilson that required seven stitches to close.
“The defendant disregarded the civil rights of those under his care and ultimately used his position to inflict physical harm on multiple pretrial detainees,” said Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “Today’s sentencing clearly shows the FBI will aggressively pursue any law enforcement officer who abuses their responsibility to protect and serve.”
Oklahoma corrections facilities dangerous For detainees
Oklahoma jails and prisons have long faced criticism from community members for their overcrowding, conditions, as well as treatment from guards.
Oklahoma County jail has received some of the most complaints because of the amount of detainees that have ended up dead while in prison custody.
In December 2021, Detention Officer Jesse Kight was fired from the Oklahoma County jail the day after a detainee was discovered hanging in his cell. Protocol for the detainee to be checked on every 30 minutes was not followed.
“Preliminary indications of misconduct in this case may lead to charges against the detention officer,” said Greg Williams, the outgoing CEO of the Oklahoma County Detention Center. “Staff must and will be held accountable for not following policies and procedures.”
Five prison guards at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary were charged with felonies for their roles in a June inmate assault for punching a shackled inmate multiple times and not reporting that information in an incident report.
Lieutenant William Graham received the most serious charges of aggravated assault and battery and offering false evidence.
The inmate’s assault wasn’t properly investigated until Department of Corrections investigators reviewed surveillance video after the inmate complained of being assaulted.
In the investigator’s affidavit, Graham denied all allegations in a June interview with investigators. It wasn’t until after he was shown the surveillance video that Graham said it looked like he was striking the inmate, but claimed “he did not remember doing so.”