By Victor Omondi
A former Oklahoma jail superintendent now faces 10 years in prison after a federal jury convicted him of using excessive force and intentionally putting two detainees in danger.
Matthew Ware, 53, is accused of depriving three pretrial inmates of their civil rights at the Kay County Detention Center in rural Newkirk, Oklahoma, near the Kansas border, in 2017 and 2018.
D’Angelo Wilson and Marcus Miller, two Black inmates, were placed in the same unit with white supremacists who attacked them, putting their lives in jeopardy.
The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said, “This high-ranking corrections official had a duty to ensure that the civil rights of pretrial detainees in his custody were not violated.”
“The defendant abused his power and authority by ordering subordinate corrections officers to violate the constitutional rights of several pretrial detainees. The Civil Rights Division will continue to hold corrections officials accountable when they violate the civil rights of detainees and inmates,” Clarke added.
According to investigators with the Department of Justice, Ware was a lieutenant when he instructed lower-ranking officers to put Miller and Wilson in the same cell row as known white supremacists in May 2017. Later, he directed his minions to simultaneously unlock the cells of Black inmates and white supremacists.
Consequently, they attacked Miller and Wilson, causing Wilson to suffer a facial laceration that necessitated seven stitches, officials claimed.
While serving as captain in January 2018, Miller ordered guards to place detainee Christopher Davis on a seat in a “stretched-out position.” Davis was held in a “crucifixion-type position” in handcuffs, according to former jail employee Stephanie Wright, who reported the event.
Officers were to hold Davis’ wrists for 90 minutes, each on the farthest side of the bench. Officials with the Department of Justice believe the event, which resulted in Davis’ injury, was in reprisal for the inmate mailing Ware a note criticizing how he operated the jail.
Wright’s lawyer, Mark Hammons, told KFOR that his client was fired for informing the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and the FBI about the misbehavior. Wright’s complaints were apparently deemed “unbecoming” by jail director Don Jones.