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Judge Sentences Woman to 7 Years For Aiding in NY Prison Break: 'You Did Terrible Things'

In June, prison employee Joyce Mitchell helped two convicts escape from Clinton Correctional Facility, prompting a nearly month-long manhunt
Photo by Rob Fountain/AP

A prison employee who helped two convicted murderers escape a maximum security prison in upstate New York was sentenced Monday to up to seven years behind bars for providing tools used in their daring break-out.

The judge rebuked Joyce Mitchell, 51, who worked as a supervisor at the tailor shop of Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, for the terror experienced by the surrounding community during the nearly monthlong manhunt for convicted murderers Richard Matt and David Sweat.


"You did terrible things," Judge Kevin Ryan told Mitchell as she stood shackled before him — her husband looking on from the courtroom's front row.

Mitchell, who accepted a deal with prosecutors in which she admitted smuggling hacksaw blades and a screwdriver bit for the June 6 escape, apologized for "the worst mistake I have ever made in my life."

She had agreed to drive a getaway car as well. But she changed her mind at the last minute.

"I was fearful of Mr. Matt killing my husband," the weeping Mitchell said.  "I never intended for all this to happen."

The judge sentenced her to two and one-third to seven years in prison and a $5,000 fine for promoting prison contraband and a concurrent one-year prison term and $1,000 fine for criminal facilitation.

The state inspector general asked that Mitchell pay almost $120,000 in restitution for reconstruction costs to repair broken prison walls. A hearing on that will be held at a later date.

After a three-week manhunt through the Adirondack Mountains, Matt, 49, was fatally shot by a federal agent on June 26 about 27 miles away from the prison. Sweat, 35, was captured two days later, about two miles from the Canadian border.

Related: In Photos: Inside the NY Prison Where Two Inmates Made a 'Shawshank'-Style Escape

Under the plea deal, Mitchell will not face any possible sexual assault or rape charges stemming from allegations that she had sexual relations with Matt or Sweat, Wylie said.