Former Oklahoma officer allowed white supremacists to attack Black inmates

OKLAHOMA CITY — A former White Oklahoma correctional officer was sentenced to almost four years for promoting the attack on Black inmates by white supremacists.

Matthew Ware, 53, a former Kay County Detention Center officer, was convicted in April in federal court for violating the civil rights of the three Black detainees. Ware’s federal prison sentence, handed down on Monday, will be followed by three years of supervised release.

“A jury found that Mr. Ware abused his position of power over the individuals in his custody,” said U.S. Attorney Robert J. Troester for the Western District of Oklahoma in a prepared statement. “Today’s sentence holds him accountable for that conduct.”

Ware violated the laws he was sworn to uphold, betrayed the public trust, and dishonored the many brave corrections officials who lawfully perform their important work each day, Troester’s statement reads. 

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On May 18, 2017, Ware ordered lower-ranking correctional officers to move two Black pretrial detainees to a cell row that housed white supremacist inmates, according to trial testimony.

Ware ordered the jail cells to be unlocked at the same time leading the white supremacist inmates to attack the Black men.  One detainee sustained a facial laceration that required seven stitches, trial testimony showed.

In another violation, on Jan. 31, 2018, Ware ordered that a detainee’s left wrist was to be cuffed to the far-left side of the bench and his right wrist cuffed to the far-right side of the bench calling for his body to be stretched out, trial testimony showed. 

This act was in retaliation for the inmate sending Ware a note critiquing how Ware ran the detention center. The inmate was left restrained in this position for 90 minutes, resulting in physical injury, trial testimony showed.

Ware 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 Kristen Clarke, Assistant Attorney General.

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