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Former Oklahoma corrections officer sentenced to federal prison for deliberately allowing white supremacist attack on Black detainees

Matthew Ansley / Unsplash

A former Kay County Detention Center supervisory corrections officer will serve time in federal prison for violating the civil rights of three Black detainees.

Michael Ware, 53, was sentenced earlier this week to 46 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s news release.

Ware allowed white supremacist inmates to attack two Black pretrial detainees and ordered excessive force against a third inmate. He was convicted of those crimes in April.

While serving as the Lieutenant of the center, Ware ordered lower-ranking corrections officers to move two Black detainees to a cell row housing white supremacists inmates on May 18, 2017. Ware made the orders knowing the inmates posed danger to the Black detainees, according to the department.

Later, Ware ordered the officers to unlock the cells housing the Black detainees, and the white supremacist inmates the next morning. They attacked them both, resulting in injuries, including a cut on a detainee's face that took 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.

Then on Jan. 31, 2018, Ware, the acting captain of the center, ordered lower-ranking officers to restrain another pretrial detainee in a stretched position. His right and left wrists were cuffed to opposite ends of a bench, and he was left extended and bound for 90 minutes. The detainee was physically injured from the incident.

This was a response to a note Ware received from that detainee criticizing how he ran the detention center, according to the department.

Hannah France is a reporter and producer for KGOU.
Ryan LaCroix is the Director of Content and Audience Development for KOSU.
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