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Press Release

Former Jail Administrator Pleads Guilty to Civil Rights Violation for Depriving Inmate of Medical Care

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

Acting Assistant Attorney General Tom Wheeler of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney Mark A. Yancey of the Western District of Oklahoma jointly announced that a former McClain County, Oklahoma, Jail Administrator, Wayne Barnes, pleaded guilty today in federal court to a civil rights violation that resulted in the death of an inmate in his custody.

On October 4, 2016, a federal grand jury in the Western District of Oklahoma returned a one-count indictment charging Barnes with a civil rights violation arising out of the death of a detainee, K.W., who was housed at the Jail in June 2013.   The indictment alleged that K.W. suffered from diabetes that he needed insulin to control, that K.W. did not have insulin at the Jail from the time of his arrival on June 16, 2013, and that K.W. was not evaluated or treated by a doctor, or taken to a hospital for evaluation or treatment until the afternoon of June 19, 2013.  On that day, according to the indictment, Barnes observed K.W. lying on the floor of his cell, unresponsive.  Only then did Barnes direct a corrections officer to call emergency medical services, who arrived to find K.W.’s pupils fixed and dilated.  K.W. died on June 21, 2013, never having regained consciousness.  The indictment alleged that Barnes knew that K.W. had a serious medical condition and willfully failed to provide him with necessary medical care, and that his failure to do so resulted in K.W.’s death. 

At the change of plea hearing held today before U.S. District Judge Stephen P. Friot, Barnes admitted that he was made aware between June 16, 2013 and June 19, 2013 that K.W. had been booked into the McClain County Jail, and that K. W. represented that he was a Type-1 diabetic who required insulin.   Barnes further admitted that Barnes failed to obtain medical care for K.W. and that, in so doing, he willfully denied K.W.’s Constitutional right to medical care. Barnes also admitted that his failure to obtain the required medical care resulted in K.W.’s death.

“Every person in this country, including inmates in our jails, is protected by the U.S. Constitution, which requires jailers to provide necessary medical care to all persons in their custody,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Wheeler.  “The Civil Rights Division will hold corrections officers like this defendant accountable for failing to uphold their oaths to enforce and defend our Constitution.” 

“Inmates deserve and the law requires that adequate medical care be provided by penal institutions,” said U.S. Attorney Yancey. “Denying needed medical treatment to cut costs is inhuman and unconstitutional.”

At sentencing, Barnes faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. Sentencing for Barnes will be set by the court on a future date. 

This case was investigated by the Oklahoma City Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Julia Barry of the Western District of Oklahoma and Deputy Chief Kristy Parker of the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. 

Updated March 17, 2017

Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 17-170