New York

Ex-NY Prison Employee Who Helped Killers Escape Released Early

Joyce Mitchell was convicted of helping Richard Matt and David Sweat escape Dannemora in 2015

What to Know

  • The woman who helped two killers escape from a New York prison was freed early on Thursday morning
  • Joyce Mitchell was determined to have earned time off for good behavior
  • Mitchell was sentenced to up to 7 years for helping Richard Matt and David Sweat escape from the state prison in Dannemora in June 2015

The former prison tailor serving time for helping two killers pull off a "Shawshank Redemption"-style escape from a northern New York correctional facility walked free Thursday.

Joyce Mitchell, 55, was tentatively approved for conditional release last December after a prison staff committee determined she had earned time off for good behavior. The state Board of Parole has denied Mitchell's attempts at freedom three times, most recently last June.

Mitchell was serving two-and-a-third to seven years in Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for helping Richard Matt and David Sweat escape from the state prison in Dannemora in June 2015. She provided tools they used to cut and chisel through walls and pipes at Clinton Correctional Facility in a prison break featured in the 2018 Showtime miniseries "Escape at Dannemora."

Prison escapee David Sweat was shot and captured Sunday just south of the Canadian border, ending an statewide manhunt that spanned more than three weeks.

The three-week manhunt to capture Matt and Sweat cost more than $23 million and involved hundreds of state and local law enforcement officers. Matt was eventually shot dead and Sweat was shot, captured and put behind bars for life.

Clinton County Sheriff David Favro has argued Mitchell should serve a full seven years.

"With the egregiousness of her actions, and the jeopardy she put our society in as a whole, it is a mockery of our system to let her out after a couple of years," Favro told the Plattsburgh Press-Republican last year.

NBC New York / The Associated Press
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