Prison worker who helped killers escape from Dannemora is released

Under a plea deal with prosecutors, Joyce Mitchell was sentenced to 2-1/3 years to 7 years in prison for helping Richard Matt and David Sweat break out of the state prison in Dannemora in 2015. (AP File)

The former prison tailor who helped two killers escape a maximum-security New York prison was released Thursday after serving more than four years behind bars.

Joyce Mitchell, 55, was released from Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, north of New York City, early Thursday. She will be under community supervision in northern New York, where she previously lived and worked at the state prison in Dannemora, prison officials said in an emailed statement.

Mitchell helped Richard Matt and David Sweat break out of the state prison in 2015. She provided tools they used to chisel through walls and pipes in a Shawshank Redemption-style escape in northern New York.

After a three-week manhunt, Matt was shot dead and Sweat was captured and put behind bars for life. The escape was featured in a 2018 Showtime miniseries, Escape at Dannemora, with Patricia Arquette playing the part of Mitchell.

Mitchell was sentenced to 2 1/3 to seven years and was denied parole three times. She was approved for conditional release after a prison staff committee determined she had earned time off for good behavior.

The state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision said Mitchell's official release date is on Saturday but she was released on Thursday so she can meet the requirement of reporting to a parole officer within 24 hours.

She will remain under supervision until June 8, 2022.


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