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Woman Sentenced for Assisting Prison Escapees

  • VOA News

FILE - Joyce Mitchell, accused of smuggling contraband into the prison from which two convicts escaped last week, is arraigned in City Court in Plattsburgh, New York, June 12, 2015.

FILE - Joyce Mitchell, accused of smuggling contraband into the prison from which two convicts escaped last week, is arraigned in City Court in Plattsburgh, New York, June 12, 2015.

A woman who helped two convicts escape from prison earlier this year, sparking a high profile manhunt, was sentenced to a prison term.

Joyce Mitchell, who worked at the Clinton Correctional Facility in the state of New York where prisoners Richard Matt and David Sweat were imprisoned, had pleaded guilty in July to first-degree promoting prison contraband, a crime that carries a sentence between 2 ⅓ and seven years, and fourth-degree criminal facilitation, which carries a sentence of one year, to be served concurrently.

FILE - New York State Police photos show inmates David Sweat, left, and Richard Matt, who escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y., June 6, 2015.

FILE - New York State Police photos show inmates David Sweat, left, and Richard Matt, who escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y., June 6, 2015.

She was also fined $6,000.

At the hearing, a weeping Mitchell told the judge she was “sorry” and that she would “take it all back” if she could.

"I am 51 years old. And this is by far the worst mistake I have ever made in my life. I live with regret every day and will for the rest of my life," she said.

Mitchell had said she helped the prisoners because she feared for her life and her husband’s life. She had carried on an intimate relationship with Matt, according to reports.

Judge Kevin Ryan said he didn’t find her story credible.

“At any time you could have stopped the escape from happening,” he said.

Mitchell, who worked in the prison’s tailor shop, allegedly smuggled tools to the convicts which helped them escape. The tools, which included hacksaw blades, were hidden in hamburger meat, police official said.

Mitchell told the court she was seeking counseling and had agreed to give up her teaching credentials.

The escape led to a massive, three-week manhunt, which led to the shooting death of Matt and the eventual recapture of Sweat.

Mitchell may still face a hefty financial penalty for her crime, as the state is seeking restitution for the massive costs of the manhunt.

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