An ex-correctional officer at the Kay County Detention Center (KCDC) was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for civil rights violations of detainees awaiting trial at the KCDC.
According to the Department of Justice, on April 15, Matthew Ware was convicted of willfully depriving two pretrial detainees of their right to be free from a correctional officer’s deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of serious harm. He was also convicted of willfully depriving a third pretrial detainee of the right to be free from a correctional officer’s use of excessive force.
“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.”
Court documents revealed that while Ware was serving as the Lieutenant of the KCDC, he ordered lower-ranking correctional officers to move two Black pretrial detainees, to a cell row housing white supremacist inmates who Ware knew posed a danger to the Black inmates.
Later that same day, Ware told lower-ranking officers to unlock the jail cells of the two Black inmates and those of the white supremacist inmates at the same time. The white supremacist inmates then attacked the Black inmates, resulting in physical injury to both, including a facial laceration that required seven stitches.
“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.”
The FBI also assured the public they will protect civil liberties.
“The vast majority of the men and women working in correctional institutions do their jobs honorably on a daily basis. However, Mr. Ware’s disgraceful actions undermined the public’s trust and deprived the detainees of their civil rights under the U.S. Constitution,” said Special Agent in Charge Edward J. Gray of the FBI Oklahoma City Field Office. “Rest assured, the FBI will work tirelessly alongside our law enforcement partners to ensure the civil liberties of every American are protected.”