Yesterday (Dec. 5), former Kay County Detention Center correctional officer Matthew Ware was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison. According to a release from the Department of Justice, he violated the civil rights of three Black pretrial detainees held at the facility. In addition to his time behind bars, Ware will have three years of supervised release.
The 53-year-old was convicted for his crimes by a federal jury on April 15. Ware was found guilty of depriving two pretrial detainees of their right to be free from a correctional officer’s deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of serious harm and of willfully depriving a third pretrial detainee of the right to be free from a correctional officer’s use of excessive force, as noted in the statement. Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division gave an update on Ware’s case. “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,” she shared.
Clarke continued, “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.” U.S. Attorney Robert J. Troester added that Ware “abused his position of power over the individuals in his custody.”
Authorities say that on May 18, 2017, Ware was a lieutenant at KCDC and forced lower-ranking correctional officers to move two Black pretrial detainees to an area that housed white supremacist inmates. He was fully aware that the situation would place the Black inmates in danger. Ware then asked lower-ranking guards to unlock the cells of the white supremacist prisoners while the Black men were present. This resulted in an attack that left them badly injured with one needing stitches.
On Jan. 31, 2018, the former correctional officer also ordered his coworkers to restrain an inmate with cuffs as they were stretched for 90 minutes. “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,” Special Agent in Charge Edward J. Gray of the FBI Oklahoma City Field Office shared.