Jail Official Sentenced To Prison For Denying Medical Care To Dying Diabetic Inmate

Wayne Barnes allegedly required employees at an Oklahoma jail to get his permission before calling for medical help for inmates.

WASHINGTON ― A former jail administrator in Oklahoma was sentenced to over four years in federal prison on Wednesday in connection with the 2013 death of a diabetic inmate he allegedly accused of faking an illness.

Wayne Barnes, the former jail administrator for the McClain County Jail, was sentenced to 51 months in prison and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine on a federal civil rights charge in connection with the death of Kory Wilson, 27. Barnes admitted that, in failing to obtain medical care for Wilson, he willfully denied Wilson of his constitutional right to medical care, and that his inaction resulted in Wilson’s death.

A grand jury indicted Barnes in October 2016. At a hearing in February, Barnes admitted that he was aware Wilson was an insulin-dependent diabetic when he was booked into that jail, that he knew Wilson had a diabetic episode, and that he made the decision not to transport Wilson to the hospital. Barnes agreed that Wilson died because of Barnes’ deliberate indifference and willful decision to deprive Wilson of medical care.

HuffPost’s jail deaths investigation last year found that at least a dozen individuals with diabetes died in U.S. jails during the yearlong period examined.

While it’s relatively common for inmates to die after their medical needs are ignored by jail officials, it’s rare for officials like Barnes to face criminal charges in connection with alleged negligence. There have been just a handful of federal civil rights indictments alleging that corrections officials violated inmates’ civil rights through “deliberate indifference” to their medical needs.

Wilson’s family filed a lawsuit alleging that Barnes enforced a verbal policy at McClain County Jail that employees weren’t allowed to call for medical help for inmates without Barnes’ approval.

“Every law enforcement officer in this country takes an oath to uphold the United States Constitution,” John Gore, the acting head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement. “The Constitution ensures that persons detained pending the adjudication of charges against them are entitled to necessary medical care. This sentence affirms the importance of that right and underscores the continuing commitment of the Civil Rights Division to hold officers accountable to their oaths.”

Both the government’s sentencing memorandum and Barnes’ motion in connection with his sentencing were filed under seal.

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