Prison worker Joyce Mitchell was released from prison on Thursday, January 6, after completing her five-year term for helping two convicted murderers escape from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York in 2015.
Mitchell was convicted of aiding convicted murderers Richard Matt and David Sweat to escape the Dannemora prison five years ago. The incident gained national attention as officials spent 22 days and a whopping $23 million for searching for the escaped killers. The manhunt came to its conclusion in June 2015 after Matt was shot and killed by authorities and two days later, Sweat was shot and apprehended.
The incident was compared to the escape featured in Stephen King's novel and film 'Shawshank Redemption.' It also inspired the plot of Showtime's Emmy nominated miniseries, 'Escape at Dannemora' in 2018.
Mitchell was charged for promoting prison contraband, criminal facilitation and sentenced to prison between 2 and a 1/3 and eight years in September five years ago. She admitted to the charges of promoting prison contraband and was ordered to pay $80,000 in restitution for damages incurred during the escape, according to the Associated Press.
The grand escape
Investigation revealed that Mitchell was seduced by Matt, 48, who was serving 25 years in prison and Sweat, 34, who was serving life without parole, both for murder. Mitchell worked as a prison tailor was a part of the two inmate's grand scheme.
"She professed her love for Sweat in notes she secretly sent him," a report from the New York inspector general said. She also allegedly "engaged in numerous sexual encounters with Matt in the tailor shop."
Mitchell agreed to help both Sweat and Matt flee from the facility by helping them collect guns, ammunition, camping gear, and a campus. Other tools such as hacksaw blades, chisels, and other tools were smuggled into the prison in frozen hamburger meat that was given to the inmates.
On June 6, both Matt and Sweat were found missing during the 5:30 am morning roll call. The inmates used power tools to cut through the back of their cells, a brick wall and a stream pipe and managed to escape through a manhole located outside the prison walls.
Mitchell, who was supposed to meet the inmates at a getaway car after the prison break, got cold feet and didn't meet them later. During her trial, Mitchell expressed she regretted helping them escape. "If I could take it all back I would," she said. "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."